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Whipple’s disease

  • Alternative Names

    Intestinal lipodystrophy


    People with Whipple's disease need to take long-term antibiotics to cure any infections of the brain and central nervous system. An antibiotic called ceftriaxone is given through a vein (IV). It is followed by another antibiotic (such as trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole) taken by mouth for up to 1 year.

    If symptoms come back during antibiotic use, the antibiotic treatment may be changed.

    Your health care provider should closely follow your progress, because signs of the disease can return after you finish therapy. Those who have nutritional deficiencies from malabsorption will also need to take dietary supplements.

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Without treatment, the condition is usually fatal. Treatment relieves symptoms and can cure the disease.

    • Brain damage
    • Heart valve damage (from endocarditis)
    • Nutritional deficiencies
    • Symptoms return (which may be because of drug resistance)
    • Weight loss

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if you have persistent joint pain, abdominal pain, or diarrhea.

    If you are being treated for Whipple's disease, call your health care provider if:

    • Symptoms worsen or do not improve
    • Symptoms reappear
    • New symptoms develop