Skip to Content

SHARE

Sprue

Sprue is a disorder in which the intestines are unable to absorb nutrients from food. It can cause loss of appetite, diarrhea, weight loss, muscle cramps, pale skin, and bone pain.

Sprue occurs in two forms: tropical and nontropical.

  • Tropical sprue affects people who live in tropical areas. Its exact cause is not clear, but it likely results from a viral or bacterial infection of the lining of the intestine and, possibly, poor nutrition. Tropical sprue is treated by taking antibiotics for 3 months to 1 year along with vitamin supplements.
  • Nontropical sprue, usually called celiac disease or celiac sprue, may begin to cause symptoms when foods containing gluten are introduced into the diets of infants. Some people may not have symptoms until later in life. This type of sprue is treated by permanently adopting a strict gluten-free diet. This means a person cannot eat foods that contain gluten, which is a form of protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.

Decision Points

Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.

You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:

Interactive Tools

Get started learning more about your health!

Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.

Symptom Checker

Feeling under the weather?

Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.