Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Symptoms Evaluation Treatment questions for doctor Home Care diarrhea in adults diarrhea in children diet taking control warning signs Complications Underlying Cause Anatomy

Tropical Sprue Diarrhea in Adults

Home treatment for diarrhea in adults due to tropical sprue includes general measures and dietary therapy. When possible, removing the cause of the malabsorption is important.

General Measures
Simple methods can restore lost body fluids and reduce symptoms. Adults who are taking fluids by mouth can usually restore lost fluids and body salts with oral rehydration therapy (ORT). Simply drinking enough fluid can treat most people with diarrhea and dehydration.

ORT fluids are usually used in children, but are also effective for adults. These include:

  • Infalyte
  • Lytren
  • Naturalyte
  • Pedialyte
  • Rehydralyte
  • ReVital
  • Generic drugstore brands

Adults may also use the following fluids:
  • Non-caffeinated soft drinks
  • Sports drinks
  • Tea
  • Water (not exclusively)

Dietary Therapy
It is not necessary to highly restrict the diet to treat diarrhea. Foods known to cause malabsorption should be avoided. Otherwise, most people can eat a regular diet. Small, frequent meals may improve symptoms.

Probiotic therapy with live Lactobacillus acidophilus cultures may help diarrhea by restoring the normal balance of intestinal bacteria. This is especially true after taking antibiotics.

Foods that may help diarrhea:
  • Applesauce
  • Bananas
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Crackers (saltines and pretzels contain needed salt)
  • Lean meats
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Noodles
  • Oatmeal
  • Oral rehydration therapy liquids
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Sorghum
  • Strained carrots
  • Wheat
  • Yogurt with live cultures

Items that may worsen diarrhea include:
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Concentrated fruit juices
  • High-sugar foods (junk food)
  • Cow's milk
  • Spicy foods
  • Sugar substitutes

Continue to Tropical Sprue Diarrhea in Children

Last Updated: Jul 10, 2009 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Tropical Sprue References
  1. Farrell JJ. Overview and diagnosis of malabsorption syndrome. Semin Gastrointest Dis. 2002 Oct;13(4):182-90. [12462704]
  2. Ginsburg PM, Janefalkar P, Rubin DT, Ehrenpreis ED. Malabsorption testing: a review. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2000 Oct;2(5):370-7. [10998664]
  3. Salerno G, De Franco A, La Rosa S, Calistro V. Malabsorption syndromes. Rays. 2002 Jan-Mar;27(1):19-34. [12696272]
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