One of the frustrating parts about having Behcet’s disease is that it can affect so many different parts of your body. And unlike other conditions that may only need a couple of doctors, it’s not uncommon for people living with Bechet’s have enough for a soccer team!
So, we decided to break down some of the most common doctors people with Behcet’s see, and of course, why!
A hematologist treats people with blood problems, and this can happen in Behcet’s when the inflammation of different blood vessels. Sometimes, this can cause blood clots, and one of the most severe types is deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This is a blood clot that could break free and travel, potentially causing serious problems. A hematologist can help find ways to break down clots and help prevent them from being formed in the first place.
One of the most severe, and rare, complication with Behcet’s disease is called Neuro-Behcet’s, where inflammation affects the central nervous system. While it’s common for people with Behcet’s to suffer from headaches, it’s always good to take precaution, especially if you have other symptoms like weakness, pins and needles, double vision, and confusion. A neurologist can determine if there is any inflammation happening within the brain tissue or the blood vessels leading into the brain. If there is, they can find a treatment to help reduce it.
Alright, guys. Your turn! The same sensitivities apply here: it can be awkward to talk about what’s going on down there, but a urologist can be a great person to help you get a correct diagnosis. They can also prescribe topical creams to help ulcers heal faster and reduce the amount of pain.
Since Behcet’s is most often classified as an autoimmune disease, a rheumatologist is usually the main doctor managing your care. They are the most familiar in the medications available to treat systemic diseases. Behcet’s is also classified as a form of vasculitis, which means it causes inflammation in many blood vessels, and this the reason for all the different symptoms. So, if you get the underlying inflammation under control, you’ll have an easier time. Thankfully, that’s what rheumatologists are best at!
Many people with Behcet’s develop skin sores, in addition to the mouth and genital ulcers. These skin lesions often present as acne-like or deep red marks on the legs and lower body called erythema nodosum. Dermatologist can prescribe different creams, usually some type of steroid cream, to help heal lesions faster and lessen pain. They can also perform biopsies and do skin checks which are especially important if you’re immune system is being suppressed. Dermatologists are often the key to getting a more definitive Behcet’s diagnosis.
6. General Practitioner
Often the first doctor you see, your GP can be a great starting point to help you weed out the obvious problems to make sure you don’t miss anything. It’s a good thing instead of jumping for something rare, to make sure you haven’t skipped over a common answer. However, once you get a diagnosis of Behcet’s, it’s important to still have regular physicals with your GP since they can help catch any other health issues early.
7. Dentist/Oral Surgeon
Your dentist may be one of the first people to notice mouth ulcer and help provide some initial relief. They can also advise you on good mouth hygiene, which may help prevent some mouth ulcers from being triggered. Sometimes, if your doctor wants to have an ulcer biopsied, you may see an oral surgeon.
An ophthalmologist, called an eye doctor, is perhaps one of the most important members of a Behcet’s healthcare team. Eye inflammation is one of the most common systemic symptoms of Behcet’s, and can lead to some of the most serious complications. Left untreated, uveitis (eye inflammation) can cause vision loss and even blindness. An ophthalmologist will help you, and your rheumatologist keep track of how your eye inflammation is responding to treatment. Some cases can clear up with just a regimen of steroid eye drops, but persistent cases might require immunosuppresant therapy. That’s where your rheumatologist comes in!
If you get genital ulcers and you’re a woman, chances are you’ve seen a gynecologist. (Guys, we’ll get to you next). It’s important that you trust all of your doctors, but this is where trust is essential. Many people are embarrassed to talk about when things down thereare weird. And with ulcers, there’s always a fear that it’s herpes or an STI. That’s why you need a doctor you can trust, and who trusts you. Like a dermatologist, a gynecologist can give you creams to help ulcers heal faster and be less painful.
Another systemic complication of Behcet’s is inflammation and ulcers in the digestive system. This isn’t as common as eye involvement, but it still happens quite a bit, especially with people in Japan. A gastroenterologist will help you figure out if your ulcers are caused by Behcet’s or something else, like Crohn’s disease.
Like many chronic diseases, Behcet’s is a big change to adjust to. Not only that, it’s extremely unpredictable and can be difficult to control. For many people, a psychologist, or therapist, can be essential to help them navigate that transition. They can also use different techniques to help you find ways to de-stress and keep perspective in your daily life.