If you have signs and symptoms common to Whipple's disease, make an appointment with your doctor. Whipple's disease is rare, and the signs and symptoms can indicate other, more common disorders, so it can be hard to diagnose. As a result, it's often diagnosed in its later stages. However, an early diagnosis reduces the risk of serious health risks associated with not treating the condition.
If your doctor is uncertain about the diagnosis, he or she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in digestive diseases or another specialist based on the symptoms you're having.
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and to know what to expect from your doctor.
Information to gather in advance
- Write down your symptoms, including when you first noticed them and how they may have changed or worsened over time.
- Write down your key medical information, including other conditions with which you've been diagnosed and the names of all medications, vitamins and supplements you're taking.
- Write down key personal information, including any recent changes or stressors in your life. These factors can be connected to digestive signs and symptoms.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor. Creating your list of questions in advance can help you make the most of your time with your doctor.
For signs and symptoms common to Whipple's disease, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is the most likely cause of my condition?
- Are there any other possible causes for my condition?
- What diagnostic tests do I need?
- What treatment approach do you recommend?
- I have other medical conditions. How do I manage them together?
- How soon do you expect my symptoms to improve with treatment?
- For how long will I need to take medications?
- Am I at risk of complications from this condition?
- Am I at risk of a recurrence?
- How often will you need to see me for monitoring?
- Do I need to change my diet?
- Should I take any nutritional supplements?
- Are there any lifestyle changes I can make to help reduce or manage my symptoms?
Don't hesitate to ask any other questions you have.
What to expect from your doctor
A doctor who sees you for possible Whipple's disease is likely to ask a number of questions, such as:
Nov. 20, 2012
- What are your symptoms, and when did you notice them?
- Have your symptoms gotten worse over time?
- Are your symptoms typically worse after a meal?
- Have you lost weight without trying?
- Do your joints hurt?
- Do you feel weak or fatigued?
- Do you have difficulty breathing or a cough?
- Have you developed confusion or memory problems?
- Have you noticed problems with your eyes or vision?
- Has anyone close to you had similar signs or symptoms recently?
- Have you been diagnosed with any other medical conditions, including food allergies?
- Do you have any family history of bowel disorders or colon cancer?
- What medications do you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, herbs and supplements?
- Are you allergic to any medications?
- Whipple's disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/whipple/. Accessed July 17, 2012.
- Whipple disease. National Organization for Rare Disorders. http://www.rarediseases.org/rare-disease-information/rare-diseases/byID/90/printFullReport. Accessed July 22, 2012.
- Black DF, et al. MP imaging of central nervous system Whipple disease: A 15-year review. American Journal of Neuroradiology. 2010;31:1493.
- McPhee SJ, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2012. 51st ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=6395. Accessed July 22, 2012.
- Mandell GL, et al. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practices of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06839-3..001016&isbn=978-0-443-06839-3&sid=1334815881&uniqId=346690210-3#4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06839-3..00101-6. Accessed July 22, 2012.
- Bioterrorism and drug preparedness. Federal Drug Administration. http://google2.fda.gov/search?q=Plaquenil+side+effects&spell=1&client=FDAgov&site=FDAgov&lr=&proxystylesheet=FDAgov&output=xml_no_dtd&ie=UTF-8&access=p. Accessed July 22, 2012.
- Plaquenil. Physicians' Desk Reference. http://www.pdrhealth.com/drugs/plaquenil. Accessed July 22, 2012.