What is Behcet's disease?
Behçet's disease is a rare, multi-system rheumatic disorder that causes the inflammation of blood vessels anywhere in the body. This inflammation is known as vasculitis. The location of the inflammation(s) is what dictates your symptoms.
There are many different pronunciations of the word "Behçet's". Options include the following: Beh SHETS, Beh SHAY and Beh CHETs (which is the correct Turkish pronunciation, although rarely used in the U.S.).
Behçet's disease was named for Hulusi Behcet, a Turkish doctor who first identified this “triple-symptom complex.” He published a paper in 1937 noting “recurrent oral and genital ulcerations, as well as hypopyon-iritis” in two of his patients. We now know that Behçet's disease (BD) encompasses a much wider range of medical problems beyond these three classic Behçet's symptoms.
Behçet's disease tends to strike people with “Silk Road” bloodlines more frequently than it affects people of other ancestries. Silk Road countries include those in the Mediterranean basin, Middle East and Far East. However, cases of Behçet's disease (or syndrome) have been found world-wide, regardless of patients’ backgrounds. Therefore, a Behçet's diagnosis should not be ruled out in anyone who displays the primary symptoms described in the International Criteria for Behçet's Disease -- even if the patient doesn’t have a traditional Silk Road heritage.
In the Silk Road countries, Behçet's disease is more common in men than in women. However, in Western Europe and the U.S., the trend is reversed: more women have BD than men. Symptoms typically develop when patients are in their 20s and 30s, but the disease has been seen in all ages, from infants to the elderly.
There are approximately 15,000 people with Behçet's disease in the U.S.
More basic information about Behcet's disease:
How is Behcet's diagnosed? (including International Classification Criteria of 1989)
Other symptoms related to Behcet's
What causes Behcet's, and how will it affect my family and my life?
What is it like after 30 years of symptoms?
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Copyright 2009 Joanne Zeis