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How is Behcet's disease diagnosed?

Behcet's disease can be difficult to diagnose as signs and symptoms come and go and may not be apparent all at one time. If you have a history of recurrent mouth and genital ulcers, uveitis and skin sores this is suggestive of the condition.

The International criteria for classification of Behcet's disease defines the conditions as:

At least 3 episodes of recurrent oral ulcers in a 12-month period plus at least two more of the following:

  • Genital ulcers
  • Eye involvement (uveitis or retinal damage)
  • Skin lesions
  • Positive pathergy test (this is a skin prick test that can confirm Behcet's disease)

What is the treatment for Behcet's disease?

Currently there is no cure for Behcet's disease. The main goal is to treat and manage the symptoms so that complications do not develop. Because Behcet's disease affects so many different parts of the body, a team of doctors from various specialties will treat most people.

Some medications that may help in controlling symptoms include:

Topical therapy

  • Tetracycline solution
  • Topical corticosteroids
  • Local anaesthetics

Systemic therapy

  • Oral corticosteroids
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen)
  • Immunosuppressants (e.g. azathioprine, chlorambucil)
  • Experimental and research drugs (e.g. cyclophosphamide, thalidomide)
  • Antibiotics are helpfull

What is the prognosis?

Behcet's disease is a chronic disease where the acute phases come and go with varying degrees of intensity. In the early stages of the disease attacks may be frequent and last for several weeks. As time progresses the intervals between attacks may become longer and in some cases attacks cease altogether. The disease is then considered to be in remission but may strike up again at any time.

Death occurs in about 4% of Behcet's cases. Causes of mortality are attributed to gastrointestinal perforation, central nervous system involvement and vascular aneurysms (ballooning of blood vessels).

Most Behcet's patients live out a full life although they will most likely deal with some level of symptoms throughout this time.

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