Celiac Sprue DiseaseCeliac Sprue Disease: Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms and Treatments

Commonly asked questions about Celiac Sprue Disease:

What is Celiac Sprue Disease?

Celiac Sprue Disease is a digestive autoimmune disease that causes damage to the lining of the small intestine when foods that contain gluten are consumed. Gluten is a substance that is found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. The damage to the small intestine makes it difficult for the body to absorb the nutrients it needs such as fat, calcium, iron and folate.

What Causes Celiac Sprue Disease?

Medline Plus states that the exact cause of Celiac Disease is still unknown. The intestine’s lining has small areas known as villi which project outward towards the opening of the intestine. The villi are used to help absorb nutrients. When gluten is consumed by someone with celiac disease it causes their immune system to react by damaging the villi. Due to the damage caused by the immune system the villi are unable to absorb iron, vitamins and other nutrients that are needed for operation. As a result numerous health problems may occur.

What Risk Factors Attribute to Celiac Sprue Disease?

FamilyDoctor.org lists several different risk factors that increase your chances of having celiac disease.

Risk Factors Description 
Family History If any member of your family has celiac disease, about 1 person out of 10 other members of your family is also likely to have it.
Previous Autoimmune Disease If you have an autoimmune disease, such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune thyroid or liver disease, Addison’s disease, or Sjogren’s syndrome.
Genetic Disorder If you have a genetic disorder such as Down syndrome or Turner’s syndrome.

What are the Signs/Symptoms of Celiac Sprue Disease?

The symptoms associated with celiac disease can vary from person to person which can make the disease very difficult to diagnose. Medline Plus provides a list of the initial symptoms which are often associated with celiac disease.

  • Abdominal pain, gas or indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Unexplained weight loss

After celiac disease has been present for a while, and if it goes untreated, other symptoms may start to emerge due to the lack of nutrients the body has been able to absorb. Those symptoms may include:

  • Easy bruising
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Growth delay in children
  • Hair loss
  • Itchy skin with a rash
  • Missed menstrual periods
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Muscle cramps and joint pain
  • Nose bleeds
  • Seizures
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Unexplained short height

Is Celiac Sprue Disease Curable?

No, celiac sprue disease is not curable. The only treatment for both celiac disease and non-celiac wheat sensitivity is sticking to a lifelong strict gluten-free diet.

What Drugs/Medicine is used to treat Celiac Sprue Disease?

Celiac sprue disease does not have any drugs or medications that can be used to treat it. However it is recommended that if your intestines are having a difficult time absorbing the proper vitamins that you talk to your doctor about taking a gluten-free multivitamin.

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View Sources

  1. Medline Plus – Celiac Disease – Sprue
  2. FamilyDoctor.org – Causes and Risk Factors
  3. Medline Plus –  Celiac Disease 


Shan LMolberg OParrot I, Hausch F, Filiz FGray GarySollid LKhosla C, Structural Basis for Gluten Intolerance in Celiac Sprue. 2002,Science Magazine, vol.297 issue 5590, pp.2275-2279