Celiac Disease (Celiac Sprue)
Celiac disease is one of the “gluten sensitive enteropathies” which also includes dermatitis herpetiformis and transient gluten intolerance. In these hereditary autoimmune system disorders, protein fractions in wheat, rye, oats and barley set off a chain of events causing tissue damage. Celiac sprue involves destruction of the lining of the small intestine and includes a skin disorder where immune deposits trigger itchy, skin eruptions with blisters. Transient gluten intolerance is a poorly understood condition resembling celiac sprue which appears in children under the age of 2 years. These disorders are considered to be “autoimmune.” Autoimmune disorders are caused when the body’s immune system, which is meant to defend the body against bacteria, viruses, and any other foreign product, malfunctions and produces antibodies against healthy tissue, cells and organs.
Common symptoms of celiac sprue are diarrhea, bloating, weight loss, anemia, chronic fatigue, weakness, bone pain, muscle cramps, constipation, or constipation alternating with diarrhea. Overweight persons may also have undiagnosed celiac sprue. Children may have growth failure, diarrhea, projectile vomiting and a bloated abdomen. Itchy, blistering lesions of dermatitis herpetiformis can appear almost anywhere on the skin, but they are most common on the elbows, knees and buttocks. Both sides of the body are usually involved.