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Behcet Syndrome

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

What is Behcet syndrome?

Behcet syndrome, also called Behcet disease, is a condition that causes inflammation of your blood vessels. Inflammation may happen when your body attacks its own healthy tissue. Behcet syndrome may affect any blood vessel, but most commonly affects the blood vessels in your intestines, eyes, mouth, genitals, or brain. Behcet syndrome may increase your risk for certain problems, such as blood clots, or swelling of tissues that surround your brain and spinal cord. Behcet syndrome is not contagious.

What increases my risk for Behcet syndrome?

The cause of Behcet syndrome is usually unknown. The following may increase your risk for Behcet syndrome:

  • Being from Turkey, Germany, Iran, Japan, or China
  • Being 20 to 40 years of age
  • Certain genes passed from a parent to a child

What are the signs and symptoms of Behcet syndrome?

Your symptoms may be mild to severe. They may come and go. Symptoms may be more severe in men. During a flare-up, your symptoms may start suddenly, get worse quickly, and last for several weeks. Symptoms may depend on what area of your body is affected. You may have any of the following during a flare-up:

  • Painful sores or bumps in your mouth, or on your genitals or anus
  • Blurry vision, seeing floaters, or sensitivity to light
  • Eye pain, redness, or swelling
  • Bumps on your skin that may contain pus or open sores on your skin
  • Swollen, painful joints
  • Stomach pain or heartburn
  • Nausea, diarrhea, or blood in your bowel movements
  • Headaches, weakness, personality changes, or seizures

How is Behcet syndrome diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you and ask about your symptoms. He or she may diagnose Behcet syndrome based on your symptoms. You may need angiography to check for inflammation of your blood vessels. You may also need tests to check for problems caused by Behcet syndrome, such as blood clots, eye disease, or ulcers in your intestines.

How is Behcet syndrome treated?

Treatment may depend on your symptoms and problems caused by Behcet syndrome. You may only need to take medicine during a flare-up. You may be given medicine to decrease pain and inflammation. Medicine may also be given to prevent your immune system from attacking healthy tissue. Medicines may be given as pills, ointments, eye drops, or mouth rinses.

What can I do to care for myself?

  • Rest during a flare-up. Slowly start to do more each day. Try to do activities that decrease stress, such as listening to music. Stress can make symptoms worse.
  • Apply ice or heat on painful joints. Apply ice on your joint for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you apply it to your skin. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain. Apply heat on your joint for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms.
  • Eat soft, bland foods if you have mouth sores. These foods will decrease mouth and throat pain from ulcers. Examples include applesauce, gelatin, mashed potatoes, cooked vegetables, rice, and pasta.
  • Get regular exercise when your symptoms are gone. Exercise prevents stiff joints, increases your energy, and improves your mood. Do exercises that decrease stress on your joints, such as swimming or biking. Ask your healthcare provider to help create an exercise plan that is right for you.
  • Join a support group. It may be helpful to talk with others who have Behcet syndrome. For more information:
    • American Behcets Disease Association
      Web Address:

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest
    • You may also have any of the following:
      • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
      • Shortness of breath
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat
  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
    • Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
    • Weakness in an arm or leg
    • Confusion or difficulty speaking
    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
  • You cough up blood.
  • You have trouble breathing.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You have blood in your vomit or bowel movement, or when you cough.
  • You have severe abdominal pain.
  • You have a severe headache, stiff neck, and are vomiting.
  • You have trouble walking or keeping your balance.
  • You have trouble moving your arms or legs.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.
  • You have changes in your vision.
  • You have new symptoms.
  • Your symptoms do not get better with treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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