Something rare: Behçet’s Syndrome

There are many rare diseases that cause dizziness.  Although  they are not frequent, they have unusual groups of symptoms that can help make your diagnosis clear.

Behçet’s syndrome is type of vasculitis –inflammation of the blood vessels. This kind of inflammation can damage many different parts of the body.  Dizziness is a frequent symptom, occurring in more than a  third of patients. Typically the disease goes through repeated flare-ups and remissions.

It is more common in the Middle East and Asia than in the U.S, where it is a very rare, one-in-a-million disease.   It probably has a genetic component, but viral infections or autoimmune problems are suspected of being involved. 

The usual symptoms are recurrent canker sores in the mouth and in the genital area.  These are red open sores, usually round or oval, and painful.  They can last for a few weeks and tend to reappear.

Another typical symptom is blurred vision and eye pain.  The blurred vision is due to uveitis, which can be diagnosed by an ophthalmologist.  Uveitis is associated with light sensitivity, can make the eyes appear bloodshot, and can result in permanent blindness in some people. 

The joints can be inflamed, leading to arthritis and chronic pain, and the skin can develop nodules or sores.  Ulcers can form in the digestive tract and cause pain or diarrhea. 

 In some cases, this vasculitis can impair blood flow to the inner ears, leading to progressive hearing loss and vertigo spells.  The brain can also be affected, causing dizziness when vestibular pathways are damaged.  Headaches, abnormalities on MRI, and even strokes can occur.

If you think you have Behçet’s Syndrome, you should see a physician specializing in Rheumatology.  You’ll likely need a team of physicians to take care of you.  While we do not know the cause, there are treatments to help control the disease.

Published by Vertigone

I translate the medical world of dizziness for non-medical people

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