What are the symptoms of Behçet's syndrome?
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Behçet’s has a wide range of possible symptoms, but most people only have a few of these.
About 98% of people with Behçet’s syndrome have mouth ulcers that keep coming back. They’re often painful and can affect your mouth, tongue and throat. There are 2 types:
- minor ulcers are superficial and heal quickly
- major ulcers are deep and slow to heal
Sometimes you may have many tiny ulcers clustered together.
If you only have occasional mouth ulcers (as many people do), it’s very unlikely that you have Behçet’s. This is true even if you have a relative who has the condition.
Women and girls may get ulcers on their vulva, in their vagina or on their cervix. Men and boys may get ulcers on their scrotum and their penis. Some men and boys also have pain or swelling in their testicles. Ulcers and boils may appear around the anus and in the groin.
Oral and genital ulcers in Behçet’s syndrome aren’t caused by the herpes virus, and they’re not sexually transmitted or contagious, so you can’t catch them from someone else.
Skin problems can include acne-like spots, boils, red patches, ulcers, spots that look like insect-bites and lumps under your skin. Your skin may become inflamed, ulcerated or appear to be infected.
Eye inflammation is one of the most serious symptoms of Behçet’s syndrome. The inflammation may be at the front or back of your eye, around your iris or next to your retina. It must be treated as soon as possible because it can cause loss of vision.
Symptoms include floaters (dots or specks that appear to float across your field of vision), haziness or loss of vision, and pain and redness in your eye.
Extreme tiredness is a very common symptom.
Read more about fatigue and arthritis.
You may have aches, pains and swelling in various joints. These problems may come and go or they could persist. This sort of joint problem isn’t the same as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis and doesn’t usually damage your joints.
Problems with the nervous system
Some people have bad headaches. These may be caused by inflammation and you may need tests, but the headaches by themselves aren’t usually a sign of anything serious.
Occasionally Behçet’s causes other symptoms such as:
- double vision
- difficulty hearing
- loss of balance
- weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
Some people with Behçet’s also experience depression.
Many people with Behçet’s syndrome have bloating and excessive wind. Behçet’s sometimes causes inflammation of your bowel, leading to diarrhoea and abdominal pain, with blood and mucus in your stools.
Blood clots (thrombosis)
Inflamed blood vessels can increase your risk of thrombosis, although this isn’t the type of thrombosis that causes heart attacks. Veins near your skin’s surface become painful, hot and red when they’re affected, and thrombosis in deeper veins leads to pain and swelling of the affected limb. The legs are affected more often than the arms. Thrombosis can occur in the blood vessels of your head, lungs or other internal organs, but this is rare.
Read more about pain and arthritis.
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