Behcet's Disease

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What is Behcet's disease? 

Behcet's disease is a rare disease that causes chronic inflammation, or swelling, in the body's blood vessels. Behcet's disease can affect many parts of the body, including the brain and spinal cord. Neurological complications may include: 

  • Stroke
  • Meningitis – inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord
  • Cranial nerve palsies – the lack of function of nerves that lead from the brain to parts of the head, face, and trunk
  • Blindness
  • Memory loss
  • Impaired speech, balance, and movement

Other symptoms of Behcet's disease may include: 

  • Arthritis; swelling in joints
  • Cuts and scratches on the skin
  • Intestinal complications
  • Open cuts in mouth and on genitals
  • Eye inflammation

The exact cause of Behcet's disease is unknown, but it is thought to be due to a combination of genetic, immune, and environmental factors. It is more common in men between age 20 and 30, although it can occur in anyone at any age. It is more common in the Middle East and certain Asian countries. Medication may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and/or regulate the immune system. 

Learn About Clinical Trials
Clinical trials are studies that allow us to learn more about disorders and improve care. They can help connect patients with new and upcoming treatment options.

How can I or my loved one help improve care for people with Behcet's disease?

Consider participating in a clinical trial so clinicians and scientists can learn more about Behcet's disease. Clinical research uses human volunteers to help researchers learn more about a disorder and perhaps find better ways to safely detect, treat, or prevent disease.

All types of volunteers are needed—those who are healthy or may have an illness or disease—of all different ages, sexes, races, and ethnicities to ensure that study results apply to as many people as possible, and that treatments will be safe and effective for everyone who will use them.

For information about participating in clinical research visit NIH Clinical Research Trials and You. Learn about clinical trials currently looking for people with Behcet's disease at, a database of current and past clinical studies and research results.

Where can I find more information about Behcet's disease? 

Additional information is available from the following resources:

Genetics and Rare Diseases (GARD) information Center 


Order publications from the NINDS Catalog
The NINDS Publication Catalog offers printed materials on neurological disorders for patients, health professionals, and the general public. All materials are free of charge, and a downloadable PDF version is also available for most publications.