Celiac sprue is an inherited disease that affects the way nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine. It occurs when people with the genetic condition eat foods that contain gluten and other proteins.
Gluten is contained in wheat, barley, rye, and some oat products. The gluten causes an autoimmune reaction that damages the inner lining of the small intestine and impedes its role with nutrient absorption. Because of this, celiac sprue is termed a malabsorption condition.
Symptoms of celiac sprue vary from person to person. Symptoms may include abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits. Numerous non-gastrointestinal symptoms may occur as well including joint pain, bone fractures, and complications from nutritional deficiencies.
The treatment for celiac sprue is to not consume gluten products. If celiac sprue is not treated, it can lead to serious medical complications including an increased risk for developing cancer.
Celiac sprue is a chronic autoimmune disease of the digestive tract. People with celiac sprue have an inherited genetic disorder. The condition results when people with the genetic condition eat foods that contain gluten and other proteins.
Gluten is contained in wheat, barley, rye, and some oat products. The gluten causes an autoimmune reaction that damages the inner lining of the small intestine. When the intestinal lining is damaged, it is unable to produce the enzymes necessary for digestion and nutrient absorption.
Further, the villi in the small intestine become flattened, which further impedes the absorption process. Because of this, celiac sprue is termed a malabsorption disorder. The function of other body organs may be affected when malabsorption occurs.
Your doctor can start to diagnose celiac sprue by reviewing your medical history and conducting a physical examination. You should tell your doctor about your symptoms, what you typically eat, and your risk factors for celiac sprue.
Your doctor will test your blood for the antibodies associated with celiac sprue. Your doctor will also test your blood and stool for signs of malabsorption and related complications. If your antibody tests indicate that you have celiac sprue, your doctor may take a biopsy of your small intestine.
Am I at Risk
Researchers believe that celiac sprue is greatly under diagnosed. Previously believed to be rare, it appears that it may actually be a common condition.
Celiac sprue is more common in Western Europe, North America, and Australia. Celiac sprue occurs most frequently in Caucasians and people of Northern European ancestry. It is more common in women than men and generally begins in people between the ages of 30 and 50 years old.
Celiac sprue can develop in children when they begin to eat cereal. Lactose intolerance appears to be common in people with celiac sprue. Because it is inherited genetically, your risk of developing celiac sprue is greater if other members of your family have the condition.
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The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on February 16, 2022. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.