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Whipple’s disease

  • Alternative Names

    Intestinal lipodystrophy


    Symptoms usually start slowly. Joint paint is the most common initial symptom. After that, often several years later, symptoms of gastrointestinal (GI) infection develop. Other symptoms may include:

    • Abdominal pain
    • Diarrhea
    • Fever
    • Gray to brown skin color
    • Joint pain
    • Memory loss
    • Mental changes
    • Weight loss

    Signs and tests

    Possible signs:

    • Enlarged lymph glands
    • Fatty stools
    • Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding
    • Heart murmur
    • Swelling in body tissues (edema)

    Tests to diagnose Whipple's disease may include:

    • Complete blood count (CBC)
    • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing of the affected tissue for Tropheryma whippelii
    • Small bowel biopsy
    • Upper GI endoscopy (viewing the intestines with a flexible, lighted tube in a process called enteroscopy )

    This disease may also change the results of the following tests:

    • Albumin levels in the blood
    • Unabsorbed fat in the stools (fecal fat)
    • Intestinal absorption of a type of sugar (d-xylose absorption)