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Behcet's Disease on The Discovery Health Channel Canada
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Overview

Behçet disease is an inflammatory condition that affects many parts of the body. The health problems associated with Behçet disease result from widespread inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis). This inflammation most commonly affects the mouth, genitals, skin, and eyes.
Painful mouth sores called aphthous ulcers are usually the first sign of Behçet disease. These sores occur on the lips and tongue and inside the cheeks. The ulcers look like common canker sores, and they typically heal within one to two weeks. About 75 percent of all people with Behçet disease develop similar ulcers on the genitals. These ulcers occur most frequently on the scrotum in men and on the labia in women.

Behçet disease can also cause painful bumps and sores on the skin. Most affected individuals develop pus-filled bumps that resemble acne. These bumps can occur anywhere on the body. Some affected people also have red, tender nodules called erythema nodosum. These nodules usually develop on the legs but can also occur on the face, neck, and arms.

An inflammation of the eye called uveitis is found in more than half of people with Behçet disease. Eye problems are more common in younger people with the disease and affect men more often than women. Uveitis can result in blurry vision and an extreme sensitivity to light (photophobia). Rarely, inflammation can also cause eye pain and redness. If untreated, the eye problems associated with Behçet disease can lead to blindness.

Less commonly, Behçet disease can affect the joints, gastrointestinal tract, large blood vessels, and brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). Central nervous system abnormalities are among the most serious complications of Behçet disease. Related symptoms can include headaches, confusion, personality changes, memory loss, impaired speech, and problems with balance and movement.

The signs and symptoms of Behçet disease usually begin in a person's twenties or thirties, although they can appear at any age. Some affected people have relatively mild symptoms that are limited to sores in the mouth and on the genitals. Others have more severe symptoms affecting many parts of the body, including the central nervous system. The features of Behçet diseasetypically come and go over a period of months or years. In most affected individuals, the health problems associated with this disorder improve with age.

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