Medical Q&As

Behcet's syndrome - what is it?

I have just been diagnosed with Behçetís syndrome and I was wondering if you had any details on it. At the moment I am attending the local rheumatology clinic and I am taking colchicine and a steroid called prednisolone. I am worried about taking steroids and I would also appreciate any advice you could give me.

Behçetís syndrome is characterised by a triad of symptoms that includes oral and genital ulcers and eye inflammation. Arthritis occurs in approximately 50% of cases and may precede, accompany or follow other manifestations of the syndrome. The arthritis usually involves large joints such as the knees, ankles and elbows. The peak incidence of the syndrome is in the thirties but it can occur at any age. Men are affected more often than women and the cause is as yet unknown. Behçetís belongs to the category of diseases that are auto-immune in origin, which means that the immune system reacts against the bodyís own tissues rather than an external aggressor. However the trigger factors that initiate this process have not been identified. Most of the symptoms of Behçetís syndrome are painful but are not life threatening. They come and go in a series of attacks throughout life. Over time the disease tends to level off and the flare-ups become less aggressive and happen less frequently. Steroids are frequently used in the management of Behçetís syndrome and their purpose is to reduce inflammation wherever it may arise. I am not aware of the existence of a support group for the condition here in Ireland however, you may find the attached link to a British support group to be both useful and informative: http://www.behcets.org.uk/