Behçet’s disease (BD) is a rare immune disorder that causes inflammation of the blood vessels. It belongs to a group of conditions called vasculitis. It can affect both arteries and veins of any size. The most common symptoms are ulcers in the mouth and/or genitals but it can also affect the skin, eyes, joints, bowels, heart, lungs and other organs.
Diagnosis can be difficult and ambiguous. Most people with symptoms and signs consistent with the disease will never develop life threatening issues, however in those in whom blood vessel, brain or cardiac involvement has been detected it is important that it is treated as early as possible to prevent ill health or death.
BD is typically diagnosed in young adults between the ages of 20 to 40. It affects men and women equally. It is more prevalent in people whose descendants are from the “Asian silk route” from the Far East through to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. It is most common in Turkey. A gene called HLA-B51 has been associated with the disease.
Behçet’s disease may flare or diminish regularly over time. There may be times where symptoms are well controlled and others when they flare up. In many patients, BD may become less severe over time.