Behcet’s disease, sometimes called Behcet’s syndrome, causes inflammation of the blood vessels – leading to symptoms like mouth sores, eye inflammation, skin rashes, lesions, and genital sores. The exact etiology of Behcet’s disease is unknown, but some research suggests it may be an autoimmune disorder. Because Behcet’s is a chronic, systemic inflammatory condition research has focused on the methods in which the body fights the disease in an attempt to classify it. Research shows that disease expression is directly related to the presence of inflammatory molecules that are normally recruited during immune responses. The specific molecule that is highly present in Behcet’s disease patients is similarly present in many autoimmune diseases, suggesting this condition may fall under the autoimmune category.
The symptoms of Behcet’s disease may range widely, and several different body systems are susceptible. Symptoms of the mouth include sores that are commonly mistaken as canker sores. The sores usually begin as raised, round lesions that can quickly turn into painful, recurring ulcers. The skin is also a commonly affected body system in those with Behcet’s disease. Patients with Behcet’s disease are more susceptible to autoimmune skin diseases like psoriasis, and may also develop acne-like sores over the entire body. The lower legs are usually affected, with red, raised or tender nodules.
Behcet’s disease can also cause a condition called uveitis, which is inflammation of the eye that causes redness, pain and blurred vision – affecting one or both of the eyes. In more serious cases, this inflammation can occur in the blood vessels of the retina, causing serious complications. The extremities can be affected in more than one way. For example, inflammation in veins and even large arteries may present as painful, redness, and swelling of the arms or legs – even resulting in a blood clot. It’s been suggested by numerous studies that most of the symptoms Behcet’s patients experience are caused by this vascular inflammation, which is perhaps the most dangerous part of the disease. Inflammation that affects the large arteries can lead to aneurysms and blockages that may potentially be life threatening.
Researchers and physicians have identified a few risk factors. Age seems to be a common theme among Behcet patients, affecting men and women in their 20’s and 30’s. Although symptoms are usually more severe in male patients, the disease seems to affect both genders, with an underlying genetic basis. This means that a family history of Behcet’s disease will increase the chances that an individual will be later diagnosed with the condition.
The importance of addressing Behcet symptoms lies in the fact that untreated symptoms can become life threatening. Untreated uveitis can lead to blindness, and it’s strongly suggested that patients presenting with eye symptoms address these issues with their healthcare provider immediately.
Unfortunately, like most autoimmune-based disorders, there is currently no cure for Behcet’s disease. Medications are prescribed to manage the symptoms that present in each individual patient, based on the severity of the symptoms. The condition can cause flares and periods of remission, so treatment is typically tailored to the occurrence of such events. Systemic treatments are aimed at controlling the inflammatory basis of the condition. Chronic inflammation can cause damage during flare-ups, so corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory medications are commonly used to prevent such damage. Medications that alter the body’s immune response are also commonly utilized, but may increase the patient’s risk for infection, liver and kidney problems, and may potentially increase blood pressure.
Systemic enzyme therapy in Behcet’s disease is warranted mainly due to its proven anti-inflammatory effects. Because this condition may call for necessary prescription medications, systemic enzyme therapy may be beneficial due to its lack of side effects or drug interference. Systemic enzymes have been proven tolerable and effective, and can safely be taken with prescription medications (with the exception of blood-thinners). Because Behcet’s disease is considered a systemic disease, systemic enzyme therapy is a relevant consideration when addressing inflammation on a large scale, and in a natural, supplemental fashion.