Behcet’s Disease in Children: Recognising and Managing the Unique Challenges

Behcet’s disease, also known as Behcet’s Syndrome, is a complex condition that causes inflammation in the body, primarily affecting blood vessels, resulting in vasculitis. While this enigmatic disease is most commonly diagnosed in adults, it can also appear in children, presenting a unique set of challenges. 

The onset and severity of Behcet’s disease remain unpredictable, with a combination of genetic traits and environmental factors thought to contribute to its occurrence. In this blog, we will focus on the symptoms of Behçet’s disease in children, with a particular emphasis on the impact on their eyes. Additionally, it will discuss how to treat Behcet’s disease, and the ongoing research being done to find a better cure for it. 

Symptoms of Behcet’s Disease in Children

The symptoms of Behcet’s disease can manifest differently in children, highlighting a wide range of variations across various organs. Yet, it’s the involvement of the eyes in paediatric cases that emerges as a particularly significant concern. 

Exploring the symptoms will provide a comprehensive understanding, shedding light on the broader impact this condition can have on various parts of the body. Read on to explore the intricate details and recognise the symptoms of Behcet’s disease in paediatric patients.

  1. Eye Inflammation (Uveitis)

In Behcet’s disease, inflammation in the eyes, known as uveitis, is a significant concern. Prolonged, recurrent redness, pain, blurred vision, and photosensitivity are typical symptoms. Unlike other symptoms, eye involvement can have lasting consequences if not addressed promptly.

  1. Mouth Ulcers

Mouth ulcers that resemble canker sores are a characteristic feature of Behçet’s disease in children. These recurring, painful sores can have a significant impact on the child’s ability to eat and speak without discomfort.

  1. Skin Lesions

Some children may experience the emergence of acne-like lesions or red, elevated nodules on their skin, specifically on their lower legs. These skin manifestations contribute to the overall uneasiness linked to the condition.

  1. Genital Sores

Red, open sores on the genitals can cause considerable pain and may leave lasting scars. The impact on a child’s emotional well-being is an important consideration.

  1. Joint Pain

Joint swelling and pain, often affecting the knees, ankles, elbow or wrists, can be distressing for children. These symptoms can come and go, lasting one to three weeks and resolving spontaneously.

  1. Blood Vessel Inflammation

Inflammation in veins and arteries can lead to complications such as blood clots, aneurysms, and vessel blockages. These symptoms can manifest as redness, pain, and swelling in the arms or legs.

  1. Digestive System Involvement

Behcet’s disease can also affect the digestive system, causing abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and bleeding. It is essential to identify and treat these symptoms to maintain general well-being.

  1. Brain Inflammation

In certain instances, a serious consequence may include inflammation of the brain and nervous system. This can result in headaches, fever, confusion, impaired balance, or even stroke.

  1. Thrombosis 

When discussing the symptoms of Behcet’s disease in children, it is crucial to consider this additional significant factor. This condition involves the development of blood clots, which have the potential to manifest in different blood vessels across the entire body.

Eye Involvement and its Management

Among the various manifestations, eye involvement in Behcet’s disease poses a unique set of challenges for children. Uveitis, which is a type of inflammation in the eye, can be a severe complication. This condition requires the specialised attention of medical professionals. Careful assessment by an Ophthalmologist is essential, and prompt treatment for Bechet’s disease is crucial to prevent lasting damage.

The treatment for Behcet’s disease includes corticosteroids, either in oral or eye drop form, along with medications to prevent spasms of the iris muscle. In some cases, a direct injection of corticosteroids into the eye may be necessary under general anaesthesia. The collaborative effort of a multidisciplinary medical team is imperative to ensure comprehensive and effective management.

Ongoing Research to Improve the Treatment for Behcet’s Disease 

Behcet’s disease in children is an area of active research, with ongoing efforts to explore new treatment options. Limited experiences with anti-TNF-α medicines, interferon-α, and lenalidomide (a newer version of thalidomide) have shown potential benefits. However, these treatments are not yet widely established for children with Behcet’s disease and further research is needed to determine their efficacy and safety.

Recognising and managing Behcet’s disease in children requires a comprehensive understanding of its diverse symptoms, with a particular focus on the unique challenges posed by eye involvement. Early detection and intervention, especially in cases of uveitis, can significantly impact the long-term prognosis. 

If you are someone concerned about a child with symptoms of Behcet’s disease, it’s imperative to consult with experts, such as the professionals at Dr Agarwal Eye Hospital. Their knowledge and experience can be extremely helpful in providing an early diagnosis and suitable care, which will guarantee the best possible outcome for the child’s health. 

Take the first step towards your child’s well-being and schedule a consultation with Dr Agarwal Eye Hospital today.

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