The autoimmune disorder classified as Behcet’s Disease is a strange, rare illness that the medical community still understands very little. Despite the fact that doctors have identified the disease’s symptoms (usually involving ulcers and inflammation in the eye) and tracked commonalities between patients (most sufferers hail from Asia and the Middle East; this is how the disease earned it’s nickname, the Silk Road Disease), there is still no explanation as to the cause of the disease. No reason for a sudden overactive immune system in these patients have been identified, and the symptoms of Behcet’s disease are so similar to many other, less chronic illnesses, it is difficult to diagnose.
Diagnosing Behcet’s Disease is extremely tricky. When symptoms start to present themselves (usually as oral or genital ulcers) physicians are instructed to first rule out any other possible causes for the illness. This includes certain STDs and common infections. After ruling out all other possibilities, doctors can be led to a diagnosis of Behcet’s Disease if certain red flags show up in a patient’s report. Some of the most common indicators of Behcet’s disease include:
One test that helps doctors use to diagnose Behcet’s Disease is the pathergy test. This is a test specifically catered to test Bechcet’s Disease and other rare illnesses. It involves pricking a patient in the arm to observe if a red bump, lesion or pustule forms as a result of the injury. If such a bump forms, it will often prove the patient positive for Behcet’s Disease. However, many individuals with Bechet’s Disease do not react this way to the pathergy test, so such a test cannot always be depended on.
Diagnosing Behcet’s Disease is even more difficult because many times, patients with Behcet’s Disease either do not present the common symptoms, or at least not all in conjunction. The disease can also spread to different parts of the body, including the neurological system, lungs and other organs. This can either signify a non-textbook case of Bechet’s Disease or a serious progression of the disease from its earlier stages. Luckily Behcet’s Disease is still a rare occurrence in the world; unluckily, it is extremely difficult to diagnose and may go undiscovered for long periods of time.