Diseases > Behçet’s disease (BD) > What is it going to do to me?
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What are the Signs and Symptoms of Behçet’s disease?
The most frequent symptom of Behçet’s disease is sores in the mouth. They may be present all the time, or they may come and go. Around 3 attacks of these sores in one year would be typical for a person with Behçet’s disease. Sores on the genitals are also very common. In men, the sores could appear on the scrotum or glans of the penis. In women, sores might be found on the vulva or in the vagina.
Skin rashes are also common and elevated bumps on the skin called pustules may appear. This may look a lot like acne. The eyes can also be affected by Behçet’s disease. A condition called iritis or uvetitis may be present, which is a type of inflammation of the inner parts of the eye.
Behçet’s disease can cause inflammation of the large arteries such as the pulmonary artery, which brings blood from the heart to the lungs. If these vessels are involved, patients might experience shortness of breath, a cough or chest pain. It can affect veins of any size. This increases the risk of blood clots.
Arthritis can be a symptom of Behçet’s disease. Inflammation can affect the joints and cause swelling. This is often intermittent and occurs when the disease flares.
Behçet’s disease less frequently affects the nerves, gastrointestinal system (stomach & bowels), kidneys and heart.
As with many vasculitis diseases, the first symptoms are often similar to the flu. Patients start feeling unwell and commonly have a fever, achiness, and weight loss. These symptoms can last for some time. As these symptoms are not specific the diagnosis can be difficult in the early stages.
Work and Behçet’s disease
Your ability to work will depend on the severity of your symptoms and whether your disease is flaring or not. In some cases, Behçet’s disease can be quite debilitating and it may significantly interfere with work. The good news is that once your symptoms are under control, there is hope that you can resume your work. If you are able to continue working, remember to balance your activities with the need to rest and conserve energy. Try to keep your stress levels low.
Travel and Behçet’s disease
Although traveling is still possible when you have Behçet’s disease, it will depend on the stage of your disease and your symptoms. Don’t forget that Behçets’ disease is a serious illness. It can also flare up at any time. Before going on any trip, always check with your doctor and pack extra medication. See our travel checklist for extra tips.
Sex and Behçet’s disease
People with Behçet’s disease may feel generally unwell, and may experience significant fatigue, fever, and weight loss. With this can come a loss of sex drive and emotional hardships. This can create barriers to sexual needs, ability and satisfaction. Take comfort knowing that, with good treatment, sex and intimacy can be restored and maintained in people with Behçet’s disease… it can even draw partners closer together, especially through improved communication.
For more information on intimacy, a great book is Rheumatoid Arthritis: Plan to Win by Sheryl Koehn, Taysha Palmer and John Esdaile. Many of the tips in this book can also be applied to people with Behçet’s disease.
Pregnancy and Behçet’s disease
Behçet’s disease does not affect your ability to become pregnant, but the disease can flare during pregnancy. If you have this disease and want to get pregnant it is very important to discuss this first with your doctor. Blood clots can be a concern during pregnancy and with Behçet’s disease, so careful monitoring is essential. Your doctor can help come up with a safe plan to control your Behçet’s disease while you try to get pregnant and during your pregnancy. Furthermore, some of the medications used to treat Behçet’s disease should not be taken when trying to get pregnant or while breastfeeding.
Read more – What can I do about it?