Behcet’s Disease is common in the Middle East, Asia, and Japan. It is rare in the United States. In Middle Eastern and Asian countries, the disease affects more men than women. In the United States, it affects more women than men. Behcet’s Disease tends to develop in people in their 20’s or 30’s, but people of all ages can develop this disease. Behcet’s Disease is an autoimmune disease that results from damage to blood vessels throughout the body, particularly veins. In an autoimmune disease, the immune system attacks and harms the bodies’ own tissues.
The exact cause of Behcet’s Disease is unknown. Most symptoms of the disease are caused by vasculitis (an inflammation of the blood vessels). Inflammation is a characteristic reaction of the body to injury or disease and is marked by four signs: swelling, redness, heat, and pain. Doctors think that an autoimmune reaction may cause the blood vessels to become inflamed, but they do not know what triggers this reaction. Under normal conditions, the immune system protects the body from diseases and infections by killing harmful “foreign” substances, such as germs, that enter the body. In an autoimmune reaction, the immune system mistakenly attacks and harms the body’s own tissues. Behcet’s Disease is not contagious; it is not spread from one person to another. Behcet’s Disease affects each person differently. The four most common symptoms are mouth sores, genital sores, inflammation inside of the eye, and skin problems. Inflammation inside of the eye (uveitis, retinitis, and iritis) occurs in more that half of those with Behcet’s Disease and may cause blurred vision, pain and redness. Other symptoms may include arthritis, blood clots, and inflammation in the central nervous system and digestive organs.
– American Behcet’s Disease Associaton