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 medications may be changed.
Your health care provider should closely follow your progress. Symptoms of the disease can return after you finish the treatments. People who remain malnourished will also need to take dietary supplements.
Without treatment, the condition is most often fatal. Treatment relieves symptoms and can cure the disease.
Call your health care provider if you have joint pain that does not go away, abdominal pain, or diarrhea.
If you are being treated for Whipple's disease, call your health care provider if:
Symptoms get worse or do not improve
New symptoms develop
Maiwald M, von Herbay A, Relman DA. Whipple's disease. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 106.
West SG. Systemic diseases in which arthritis is a feature. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 283.
Jenifer K. Lehrer, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Frankford-Torresdale Hospital, Aria Health System, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.