Tropical sprue is a malabsorption disease commonly found in the tropical regions, marked with abnormal flattening of the villi and inflammation of the lining of the small intestine. more...
The symptoms of tropical sprue are:
- Steatorrhea or foul-smelling feces
- Weight loss and malnutrition
Left untreated, nutrient and vitamin deficiencies may develop in patients with tropical sprue. These deficiencies may have the following symptoms:
- Vitamin A deficiency: hyperkeratosis or skin scales
- Vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiencies: anemia
- Vitamin D and calcium deficiencies: spasm, bone pain, numbness and tingling sensation
- Vitamin K deficiency: bruises
Diagnosis of tropical sprue can be complicated because many diseases have similar symptoms. Your doctor would look for the following signs:
- Abnormal flattening of villi and inflammation of the lining of the small intestine, observed during an endoscopic procedure.
- Presence of inflammatory cell in the biopsy of small intestine tissue.
- Low levels of vitamins A, B12, E, D, and K, as well as albumin, calcium, and folate, revealed by a blood test.
- Excess fat in feces.
Tropical sprue is largely limited to regions about 30 degrees north and south of the equator, therefore recent travel to these regions is a key factor in diagnosing this disease.
The cause of tropical sprue is not known. It has been suggested that it is caused by bacterial, viral, amoebal, or parasitic infection. Folic acid deficiency and rancid fat have also been suggested as possible causes.
In a condition called celiac disease, which have similar symptoms to tropical sprue, the flattening of the villi and small intestine inflammation is caused by an autoimmune disorder.
Tropical sprue is endemic to India and southeast Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
Preventions of tropical sprue include avoiding travel to the affected regions.
If you have to travel, remember to use only bottled water for drinking, brushing teeth, and washing food. Do not eat fruits that have been washed with tap water or limit yourself to fruits that can be peeled, such as banana and oranges.
Once diagnosed, tropical sprue can be treated by a course of antibiotics, vitamin and/or folic acid supplements.
The prognosis for tropical sprue is excellent. It usually does not recur in patients who get it during travel to affected regions. The recurrence rate for natives is about 20%.
Read more at Wikipedia.org