Do You Know All These About Celiac Disease, With Treatment?

Overview | Difference | Type | Causes | Symptoms | Risk factors | Complications | Diagnosis | Treatment | Diet and food | Precautions

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is a digestive and complex autoimmune-mediated disorder, which can affect multiple organs of your system. In this, when a person (who is sensitive to gluten consumption) consumes gluten, a form of protein, then the digestive system of that person is unable to tolerate gluten and the immune system of that person begins to damage the small bowel. Because in such individuals, exposure to gluten causes inflammation to the gut. Repeated exposure or consumption of gluten gradually damages the small intestine’s linings, which results in problems in the absorption of minerals and nutrients from the food. Celiac disease is also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy.

 Many people are unaware of their celiac disease and continue gluten consumption unknowingly. Anyone can develop celiac disease, but females are more likely to get this disease.

This can lead to several types of severe complications including diarrhea, anemia, bloating etc.

Fact: Knowing or unknowingly, celiac disease affects around 1 in 100 people worldwide.

Difference between celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity:

Celiac disease can be diagnosed with the help of some specific markers present in the blood, which confirms the diagnosis of celiac disease. And celiac disease damages the small intestine. Whereas,

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) does not damage the intestine, there are no specific markers in the blood, and its diagnosis requires improvement in the symptoms after following a gluten-free diet. Its symptoms are also different from celiac disease’s symptoms.

Types of Celiac disease:

Apart from responsive celiac disease, there are two more kinds of celiac disease, as follows —

  • Non-responsive celiac disease: Sometimes, your body may not respond positively towards a gluten-free diet. This is maybe due to contamination of the diet from gluten. Such people may have –
  • Microscopic colitis
  • Bacterial overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Refractory celiac disease
  • Poor functioning of the pancreas
  • Trouble in the digestion of lactose, fructose, and sucrose sugars.
  • Refractory celiac disease: This is a rare condition in which the intestinal damage caused due to celiac disease doesn’t respond to the gluten-free diet. If you have followed a gluten-free diet for about 6 -12 months, without having any improvement, then you must go for a diagnosis.
  • Non-classic celiac disease: It has only one symptom – anemia
  • Asymptomatic celiac disease: It shows no symptoms at all.

Fact: Around 2.5 million people may have undiagnosed celiac disease in the U.S.

Causes of celiac disease:

  • Genes
  • Gastrointestinal infections
  • Gut bacteria
  • Breasts feeding
  • Viral infections
  • Severe emotional stress
  • Inflammation of intestines
  • Malnutrition (due to inability of villi to absorb nutrients)
  • Pregnancy
  • Surgery
  • Down syndrome (maybe)
  • Type 1 diabetes (maybe)
  • Turner syndrome (maybe)

Symptoms of celiac disease:

The symptoms of celiac disease vary from person to person, and its severity ranges from mild to severe.

Some people don’t even have symptoms for several years until either they experience the symptoms or they get diagnosed with nutrient deficiency or anemia. Children are more likely to develop celiac diseases than adults.

Symptoms of celiac disease (especially in children) are –

  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Damaged tooth enamel
  • Gas
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Failure to thrive (in infants)
  • Growth problems
  • Short height
  • Mood changes
  • Impatience
  • Pale stools with a foul smell
  • Fatty stools that float
  • Late on-set puberty

Some other symptoms (especially in adults) are –

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Joint pain
  • Musculoskeletal problems
  • Hepatitis
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis rash
  • Nerve damage
  • Tingling in the legs and feet

Some factors that can cause variation in symptoms from person to person are as follows –

  • Age
  • Amount of gluten consumption
  • Damaged small intestine
  • The age of beginning of gluten consumption

Risks and complications:

  • Malnutrition
  • Osteoporosis
  • Bone weakness
  • Infertility
  • Miscarriage
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Intestinal lymphoma
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Small bowel cancer
  • Thyroid
  •  Autoimmune liver disorders
  • Insufficient moisture production by the glands
  • A family member with celiac disease
  • Microscopic colitis
  • Addison’s disease
  • Nervous System problems

Diagnosis

The first step in the diagnosis of celiac disease is a physical examination and medical history. Your doctor will ask you about your medical history and also perform a physical examination test. Then some tests can be prescribed, such as —

  • Blood test – This test is prescribed to check the level of antibodies to gluten. People with celiac disease have some antibodies in excess. Through this test, the doctor can also check your iron levels.
  • Biopsy – To check for damage to the villi.

These two tests are sufficient to tell that you have celiac disease or not. Bit if needed, your doctor can also prescribe endoscopy. 

Treatment:

The only way to treat celiac disease is – cut down on gluten in your diet. Avoid such foods that contain gluten, like wheat, barley, rye, etc. You can also go to a dietician to get a gluten-free diet plan. A gluten-free diet can improve your condition within few days and will end the symptoms of the disease at last.

However, it will take from months to years to get recovered fully. In adults, the villi will be recovered in 2 – 3 years while in children, the recovery time is just 6 months.

But there is a condition to be fully cured, i.e. during this recovery time, regular follow–up is a must.

Diet and foods:

There is a diet called ‘gluten-free diet’, which is getting quite famous nowadays. All you need is to follow the gluten-free diet prepared by your dietician, specifically for you. Avoid gluten-rich foods.

What to eat?

  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Rice flour
  • Corn and millet

And other gluten-free products.

What to avoid?

  • Wheat
  • Barely
  • Rye
  • Most cereals
  • Grains
  • Pasta
  • Many processed foods
  • Ketchup
  • Salad dressings
  • Mustard
  • Soy sauce
  • Ice cream
  • Candy etc.

Always check the labels of the product to ensure the absence of gluten in the ingredient list.

Prevention:

Honestly, celiac disease can not be prevented. However, early detection and management of celiac disease may protect you from severe complicated health issues.

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