Intestinal condition characterized by malabsorption. The term is used for two diseases of dissimilar origin, but with the same effect on the small intestine. Both involve atrophy of the small intestinal mucosa, which absorb nutrition in the small intestine. One form, coeliac disease, is caused by abnormal sensitivity of the intestinal mucosa to gluten. The condition can be congenital in children or acquired by adults. In tropical sprue the condition is probably caused by infection. Atrophy leads to digestive difficulties (malabsorption) with symptoms including more frequent defecation, increased faecal fat content, weight loss and symptoms characteristic of vitamin and nutritional deficiency; anaemia is a possibility. It is sometimes Sprue causes diarrhoea because the absorbent area of the intestinal wall is reduced.

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