Whipple's Disease

Whipple’s Disease is an extremely rare malabsorption disease. It interferes with the body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients. Whipple’s Disease was first discussed in 1907 at Johns Hopkins University.

Whipple’s Disease causes leisons in the lining of the small intestine. The villi which are located in the small intestine are destroyed. Villi are tiny folds in the intestine that absorb nutrients.

Whipple’s Disease is a serious condition. It causes weight loss, irregular breakdown of carbohydrates and fats, resistance to insulin, and malfunctions in the immune system.

Whipple’s Disease most often occurs in men older than 45 years old.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms are:

  • diarrhea
  • broken bones
  • fatigue
  • abdominal bleeding
  • abdominal pain
  • weight loss
  • darkening of the skin
  • low grade fever
  • weakness
  • arthritis
  • chronic cough

Symptoms of Whipple’s Disease usually disappear after 1 to 3 months of treatment.

Cause

Whipple’s Disease is caused by an infectious organism called Tropheryma Whippelli.

How is Whipple’s Disease Diagnosed?

Your doctor will take a biopsy of your intestine to see if you have Whipple’s Disease.

Treatment Options

Whipple’s Disease can be treated. Antibiotics are usually prescribed for a 12 to 18 month period. Antibiotics will destroy the bacteria that causes it. Vitamin supplements may also be given. In serious cases, fluid and electrolyte replacements will be needed.