Health A-Z

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Some patients do not have signs or symptoms of WM. In these cases, WM may be detected during a routine blood test.

Those who do have symptoms may experience

  • weakness and severe fatigue

  • loss of appetite or weight

  • fever

  • bleeding from the nose and gums

  • easy bruising of the skin

  • night sweats

  • swollen lymph nodes in the neck, groin, or armpits

  • enlarged spleen and liver (felt as a swollen belly)

  • numbness or tingling in the hands, feet , legs, ears, or nose

  • vision problems

  • headaches, dizziness, or confusion.

Several conditions may result from WM, but not all patients develop them:

  • Hyperviscosity syndrome: Buildup of the IgM antibody can cause the blood to become abnormally thick (viscous) and have trouble circulating. This can result in headache, dizziness, confusion, and blurred vision. It can also cause stroke-like symptoms such as slurred speech. Hyperviscosity syndrome can be life-threatening.

  • Cryoglobulinemia: The IgM antibody makes the blood thick only at cooler temperatures. The patient's hands and feet may hurt in the cold.

  • Cold agglutinin disease: The IgM antibody causes red blood cells to be destroyed when temperatures are low. Circulation in a person's fingers, nose, ears, and toes may be affected.

  • Amyloidosis: The IgM antibody collects in one or more organs. This can damage the organ and hinder its function. A patient may experience weakness, trouble breathing, and swelling in the feet and legs.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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