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Behcets Disease

Silk Road: The name brings up images of caravans trudging over 4000 miles of deserts and mountains from China across India and Persia up to Eastern Europe trading spices, porcelain, ivory and off course silk. Goods were not the only commodities traded. Religions, philosophies and the bubonic plague also made their way back and forth. One disease even derives its name from this Silk Road because it is commonly seen in people belonging to the Silk Road countries…

What Is an Auto-immune disease?

Your immune system is your body’s protective mechanism against infection and disease. An auto-immune disease occurs when this very immune system mistakenly begins to attack and damage your own body’s tissues misinterpreting them as foreign.

What is Behcet’s Disease?

Behcet’s Disease, also called Silk Road Disease is an autoimmune disease in which the blood vessels of your body get inflamed (a defense reaction of your body to any stimulus).
 

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What causes Behcet’s Disease?

What causes your own body’s cells to attack the blood vessels is not exactly known. People of Asian and Eastern Mediterranean origin are found to suffer more frequently. Men are affected more commonly than women and especially so during your 20s and 30s. Genetic factors combined with environmental factors like microbes are thought to play a role.

Do I have Behcet’s Disease? (Signs and Symptoms)

A group of four symptoms are commonly known to occur in this disease: Mouth ulcers, Genital Ulcers, Skin problems and Inflammation inside your eye. Your joints, digestive system and nervous sytem may also be affected.

Inflammation inside your eyes can cause uveitis (uvea is the area around your pupil), retinitis (retina is the light sensitive tissue in your eye) and iritis (iris is the coloured part of your eye).

• blurry vision
• pain
• sensitivity to light
• redness
• tearing
• blindness may be seen sometimes when your retina does not get enough blood supply

What are the tests for Behcet’s Disease?

Ophthalmoscopy (a test to see the back of your eye) 

 

 

Fundus Fluorescein Angiography (A test to see the blood vessels in your eye)

Duplex and color Doppler sonography may be useful

Skin tests (called Pathergy test), MRI Brain, GIT tests etc. may be required depending on the symptoms.

What is the treatment for Behcet’s Disease?

There is no cure for Behcet’s disease. Treatment consists of medications to reduce your discomfort, control the inflammation of your and prevent severe complications. Medications include steroids to suppress the errant immune system, colchicine etc. Steroid eye drops and steroid injections next to your eye may be given.

What is the likely outcome of Behcet’s Disease? (Prognosis)

This disease is marked by its long term duration and recurrence. However, you may have periods when you go into remission (your symptoms go away temporarily). Severity of your disease may vary from you even leading a normal life to becoming blind and severely disabled. Vision loss may be kept in control by keeping the disease in remission.