Tropical sprue is a condition seen in residents of, or visitors to tropical areas. It impairs the absorption of nutrients from the intestines, causing malabsorption .
See also: Celiac disease - sprue
Causes, incidence, and risk factors:
The cause of this disease is swelling (inflammation) of the small intestine due to excess levels of certain types of bacteria in the intestines.
Risk factors are:
- Living in the tropics
- Long periods of travel to tropical destinations
Treatment begins with plenty of fluids and electrolytes. Replacement of folate, iron, vitamin B12, and other nutrients may also be needed. Antibiotic therapy with tetracycline or another broad-spectrum antibiotic is given at the beginning of treatment.
Oral tetracycline is usually not prescribed for children until after all of their permanent teeth have appeared, because it can permanently discolor teeth that are still forming.
The outcome is good with treatment.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are common complications.
In children, sprue leads to:
Calling your health care provider:
Call your health care provider if:
- Tropical sprue symptoms get worse or do not improve with treatment
- You develop new symptoms
- You have diarrhea or other symptoms of this disorder for a long period of time, especially after spending time in the tropics
Other than avoiding living in or traveling to tropical climates, there is no known prevention for tropical sprue.
Semrad CE, Powell DW. Approach to the patient with diarrhea and malabsorption. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 143.
|Review Date: 1/20/2010|
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-
A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.