Whipples Disease is another example of gut condition caused by bacteria that can result in dementia, but that can successfully be treated and reversed with antibiotic therapy targeted at the gut bacteria (treatment time minimum 1 year on the antibiotics.
My mom had/has most of the gut related symptoms common in Whipples Disease, In her case: diarrhea, abdominal pain, disetension, weight loss, and neurological symptoms (specifically for her disorientation, confusion).
10–40% of people with Whipple’s disease have problems related to involvement of the brain; the symptoms relate to the part of the brain that is affected. The most common problems are dementia, memory loss, confusion, and decreased level of consciousness.
Commonly considered a gastrointestinal disorder, Whipple’s disease primarily causes malabsorption but may affect any part of the body including the heart, lungs, brain, joints, skin, and the eyes. Weight loss, diarrhea, joint pain, and arthritis are common presenting symptoms, but the presentation can be highly variable and approximately 15% of patients do not have these classic signs and symptoms. Whipple’s disease is significantly more common in men, with 87% of the patients being male. When recognized and treated, Whipple’s disease can usually be cured with long-term antibiotic therapy; untreated, the disease is ultimately fatal.
Diagnosis is made by biopsy, usually by duodenal endoscopy, which reveals PAS-positive macrophages in the lamina propria containing non-acid-fast gram-positive bacilli. Immunohistochemical staining for antibodies against T. whipplei has been used to detect the organism in a variety of tissues, and a PCR-based assay is also available. PCR can be confirmatory if performed on blood, vitreous fluid, synovial fluid, heart valves, or cerebrospinal fluid. PCR of saliva, gastric or intestinal fluid, and stool specimens is highly sensitive, but not specific enough, indicating that healthy individuals can also harbor the causative bacterium without the manifestation of Whipple’s disease, but that a negative PCR is most likely indicative of a healthy individual.
Endoscopy of the duodenum and jejunum can reveal pale yellow shaggy mucosa with erythematous eroded patches in patients with classic intestinal Whipple’s disease, and small bowel X-rays may show some thickened folds. Other pathological findings may include enlarged mesenteric lymph nodes, hypercellularity of lamina propria with “foamy macrophages”, and a concurrent decreased number of lymphocytes and plasma cells, per high power field view of the biopsy.
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