Celiac Sprue Disease

Celiac Sprue, also referred to as celiac disease, is a malabsorption disorder which can be found in both adults and children, and generally, prevents them from absorbing gliadin (found in gluten) into the lower intestine. If not treated appropriately, the condition is life changing and for some people, fatal. Celiac Sprue is thought to be a response to both a genetic predisposition and environmental factors, so to develop the disease, a person needs to have both a hereditary or genetic predisposition, plus exposure to gluten. Unfortunately, exposure is common, as gluten is found in most grains such as wheat and barley.

Celiac Sprue is a continual disorder affecting the small intestine in the digestive tract. It prohibits the absorption of necessary minerals and nutrients needed to ensure a healthy body. Undoubtedly, the disease can have a profound effect if it remains untreated, so obviously, a correct diagnosis and subsequent treatment are essential.

Why are certain people allergic to Gluten?

Everything has to do with our immune system. When a person suffering with celiac sprue eats foods containing gluten, the gliadin within the gluten is considered a threat by the immune system. Once this happens, the body starts to produce antibodies called antigliadin, which ultimately attack the gliadin within the gluten. Unfortunately, it is not only the gluten which is perceived as a threat by the immune system, but also, celiac sprue sufferers then produce autoantibodies which attack organs, host cells, and the small intestine. They destroy the villi, a small finger like lining on the intestine wall, by flattening it and obstructing the absorption of necessary minerals and nutrients.

What Role does Genetics play in developing Celiac Sprue?

Genetics play a dominant role in the development of celiac sprue, as it has been found that the incidence of developing the disease is as much as ten percent higher if a close relative suffers from it. One of the first questions asked when patients are suspected of having celiac sprue is whether or not a close relative suffers from the disease.

Although life changing, celiac sprue can be effectively managed by following a strict gluten free diet. As long as the diet is accepted and observed, the person with celiac sprue should live a relatively normal life. If, however, gluten is reintroduced into the system, then the symptoms will reoccur, and the person will again experience common problems of the disease.

If left untreated, some believe that there is a slightly higher risk that a celiac sprue sufferer is more apt to develop intestinal lymphoma, however this has not been proven conclusively in medical circles.

Celia Sprue Triggers

Because celiac sprue is a genetic disorder, the offending gene may lie dormant in some family members and never mobilise. In others who progress to develop the disease, it may become active after being triggered by events such as:
* Pregnancy (associated childbirth)
* Surgery
* Some viral infections
* Severe stress (often emotional)

It has been discovered that celiac sprue is more predominant in the western world and rarer in those persons with an African, Caribbean and Asian background. Women also seem to be more disposed to the disorder than men. The disease manifests itself within any age group, however in children it is generally found around the ages of eighteen months to two years, whilst in adults it frequently develops in their thirties to forties.

While Celiac Sprue is recognized by some experts to be on the increase, others have argued that the increasing numbers suggest there are better detection and diagnostic methods available.

Luckily, because of the increased awareness regarding the large incidence of celiac sprue, manufacturers are much more informed of the dangers of gluten to many people and are now advertising their products as gluten free or gluten included. There are also many more choices available in the supermarkets, so a gluten free diet does not have to be mundane and boring. Truly, with some thought, celiac sprue sufferers can enjoy a well-balanced and completely enjoyable diet.

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