Treatments for Behcet's Disease
Treatments for Behcet's Disease:
The treatment plan for Behcet's disease varies depending on the severity of symptoms, the presence of complications, a person's age and medical history, and other factors. Behcet's disease cannot be cured, but treatment can help to reduce symptoms and minimize the develoment of serious complications, such as meningitis, blindness and aneurysm of the lungs.
Treatment generally involves the use of medications that suppress or control the immune system's abnormal response to healthy cells. This response results in the inflammation of blood vessels and symptoms and complications of Behcet's disease.
For mild cases that only involve lesions on the mouth, genitals, and skin, topical steroids may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation. These medications are available in creams, ointments, mouth rinses, and eye drops.
The corticosteroid prednisone may be prescribed in pill form to suppress flare-ups in many cases. High doses of prednisone paired with another type of medication that suppresses the immune system is often necessary for people who have serious complications, such as meningitis or posterior uveitis. The drug interferon alfa may also be used to control the immune response and control inflammation.
Treatment List for Behcet's Disease
The list of treatments mentioned in various sources
for Behcet's Disease
includes the following list.
Always seek professional medical advice about any treatment
or change in treatment plans.
Behcet's Disease: Is the Diagnosis Correct?
The first step in getting correct treatment is
to get a correct diagnosis.
Differential diagnosis list for Behcet's Disease may include:
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Discussion of treatments for Behcet's Disease:
NINDS Behcet's Disease Information Page: NINDS (Excerpt)
Treatment for Behcet's disease is symptomatic and
supportive. Medication may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and/or
regulate the immune system.
(Source: excerpt from NINDS Behcet's Disease Information Page: NINDS)
Questions and Answers About Behcets Disease: NIAMS (Excerpt)
Although there is no cure for Behçets disease, people can
usually control their symptoms with proper medication, rest, and
exercise. Treatment goals are to reduce discomfort and prevent serious
complications such as disability from arthritis or blindness. The type
of medicine and the length of treatment depend on the persons symptoms
and their severity.
It is likely that a combination of treatments will be
needed to relieve specific symptoms. Patients should tell each of their
doctors about all of the medicines they are taking so that the doctors
can coordinate treatment.
Topical medicine is applied directly on the sores to
relieve pain and discomfort. For example, doctors prescribe rinses to
treat mouth sores. Creams are used to treat skin and genital sores. The
medicine usually contains corticosteroids, which reduce inflammation, or
an anesthetic, which relieves pain.
Doctors also prescribe medicines taken by mouth to reduce
inflammation throughout the body, suppress the overactive immune system,
and relieve symptoms. Doctors may prescribe one or more of the medicines
described below to treat the various symptoms of Behçets disease.
- CorticosteroidsPrednisone is a corticosteroid prescribed
to reduce pain and swelling throughout the body in people with severe
joint pain and inflammation, skin sores, eye disease, or central
nervous system symptoms. Patients must carefully follow the doctor's
instructions about when to take prednisone and how much to take. It is
also important not to stop taking the medicine suddenly because it
alters the body's production of the natural corticosteroid hormones.
Long-term use of prednisone can have side effects such as
osteoporosis, weight gain, delayed wound healing, persistent
heartburn, and elevated blood pressure. However, these side effects
are rare when prednisone is taken at low doses for a short time. It is
important that patients see their doctor regularly to monitor possible
- Immunosuppressive drugsMedicines (including
corticosteriods) that help control an overactive immune system, such
as is the case in people with Behçet's disease, reduce inflammation
throughout the body and can lessen the number of flares. Doctors may
use immunosuppressive drugs when a person has eye disease or central
nervous system involvement. These medicines are very strong and can
have serious side effects. Patients must see their doctor regularly
for blood tests to detect and monitor side effects.
Depending on the person's specific symptoms, doctors may
use one or more of the following immunosuppressive drugs:
- AzathioprineMost commonly prescribed for people with organ
transplants because it suppresses the immune system, azathioprine is
now used to treat uveitis and central nervous system involvement in
Behçet's disease. This medicine can upset the stomach and may reduce
the production of new blood cells by the bone marrow.
- ChlorambucilDoctors use chlorambucil to treat uveitis and
meningoencephalitis. People taking chlorambucil must see their doctor
frequently because it can have serious side effects, such as permanent
sterility and cancers of the blood. Patients need regular blood tests
to monitor blood counts of white cells and platelets.
- CyclosporineLike azathioprine, doctors prescribe this
medicine for people with organ transplants. When used by patients with
Behçet's disease, cyclosporine reduces uveitis and central nervous
system involvement. To reduce the risk of side effects, such as kidney
and liver disease, the doctor can adjust the dose. Patients must tell
their doctor if they take any other medicines, because some affect the
way the body uses cyclosporine.
- ColchicineCommonly used to treat gout, which is a form of
arthritis, colchicine reduces inflammation throughout the body. The
medicine is sometimes used to treat eye inflammation and skin symptoms
in patients with Behçet's disease. Common side effects of colchicine
include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The doctor can decrease the
dose to relieve these side effects.
If these medicines do not reduce symptoms, doctors may use
other drugs such as cyclophosphamide and methotrexate. Cyclophosphamide
is similar to chlorambucil. Methotrexate, which is also used to treat
various kinds of cancer as well as rheumatoid arthritis, can relieve
Behçets symptoms because it suppresses the immune system and reduces
inflammation throughout the body.
Rest and Exercise
Although rest is important during flares, doctors usually
recommend moderate exercise, such as swimming or walking, when the
symptoms have improved or disappeared. Exercise can help people with
Behçet's disease keep their joints strong and flexible. (Source: excerpt from Questions and Answers About Behcets Disease: NIAMS)
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