Behcet's Syndrome Has Wide Array of Symptoms

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Dear Dr. Donohue: Last summer, my son developed chronic mouth sores, and later ugly sores broke out on his body. The doctor ruled out such things as mononucleosis and herpes. His final diagnosis was Behcet's syndrome. They are treating my son now with a cortisone medicine. Since he never had any of the other symptoms listed for Behcet's, we are puzzled. Is this related to a recent case of strep throat he had?

Your doctor did well to suspect Behcet's (BAY-sets) syndrome from such limited symptoms.

We usually find the syndrome in young adults, with males tending toward more dramatic symptoms than females.

While mouth sores are usually the prominent symptoms, similar sores can appear in the genital region, and skin can be a target, with painful red bumps. Joints, particularly the knees and ankles, can swell and be painful. Perhaps the most ominous Behcet's symptom of all is severe inflammation of the eyes.

You mention none of the non-oral symptoms - which makes your doctor's diagnosis that much more remarkable.

We still are in the dark about the syndrome's cause and its strange array of symptoms. There is a body of evidence to suggest, though, that somewhere lurking in the background is a malfunction of the patient's immunity system.

I can find no way to implicate the streptococcus infection in Behcet's syndrome.

I am glad to hear that your son is doing so well with the cortisone drug treatment. That is often the treatment used.

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