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Definition Return to top
Tropical sprue is a condition affecting the absorption of nutrients (malabsorption) that is common in the tropics and subtropics.
Causes Return to top
The cause of this disease is unknown, but it may be caused by an infection. The condition affects residents of or visitors to the tropics. Risk factors are:
Symptoms Return to top
In children, sprue leads to:
Exams and Tests Return to top
Treatment Return to top
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 is given at the beginning of treatment.
Oral tetracycline is usually not prescribed for children until after all permanent teeth have appeared. It can permanently discolor teeth that are still forming.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The outcome is expected to be good with treatment.
Possible Complications Return to top
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are common complications.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if:
Prevention Return to top
Other than avoiding living in or traveling to tropical climates, there is no known prevention for tropical sprue.Update Date: 2/20/2008 Updated by: Christian Stone, MD, Division of Gastroenterology, Washington University in St. Louis, School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.