Celiac Disease (Sprue)
I've heard of Celiac Disease, but what exactly is it? And is it the same thing as "Sprue"?
The National Institutes of Health describes it as follows:
Celiac Disease, also known as Sprue, is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The exact cause of celiac disease is unknown. The lining of the intestines contains areas called villi, which help absorb nutrients. When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products that contain gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging these villi. This damage affects the ability to absorb nutrients properly. A person becomes malnourished, no matter how much food he or she eats. The disease can develop at any point in life, from infancy to late adulthood. People who have a family member with celiac disease are at greater risk for developing the disease. The disorder is most common in Caucasians and persons of European ancestry. Women are affected more often than men.
People with celiac disease are more likely to have:
Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and Sjogren syndrome
Type 1 diabetes
The symptoms of celiac disease can be different from person to person. This is part of the reason why the diagnosis is not always made right away. For example, one person may have constipation, a second may have diarrhea, and a third may have no problem with stools.
Gastrointestinal symptoms include:
Abdominal pain, bloating, gas, or indigestion
Decreased appetite (may also be increased or unchanged)
Diarrhea, either constant or off and on
Lactose intolerance (common when the person is diagnosed, usually goes away after treatment)
Nausea and vomiting
Stools that float, are foul smelling, bloody, or “fatty”
Unexplained weight loss (although people can be overweight or of normal weight)
Because the intestines do not absorb many important vitamins, minerals, and other parts of food, the following symptoms may start over time:
Depression or anxiety
Growth delay in children
Itchy skin (dermatitis herpetiformis)
Missed menstrual periods
Muscle cramps and joint pain
Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
Unexplained short height
Children with celiac disease may have:
Defects in the tooth enamel and changes in tooth color
Diarrhea, constipation, fatty or foul-smelling stools, nausea, or vomiting
Irritable and fussy behavior
Poor weight gain
Slowed growth and shorter than normal height for their age
Do you have Celiac Disease? Would you like to be involved in a study investigating a drug to help with the symptoms? Fantastic! We are currently finishing up our most recent celiac study and are no longer enrolling new volunteers (there were so many!) but we will be starting up a new celiac study beginning this summer! So...
Check back soon!!!