Celiac Disease, Symptoms and How to Manage It
This article offers information about celiac disease, symptoms and related links to learn more about it. Raising awareness about this health risk can help us maintain a healthy life style while managing it in a positive way. There is no cure for coeliac disease but following a strict gluten free diet can help you live longer with less complications.
Celiac Disease also known as celiac disease, is an inherited autoimmune disease that effects more than 3 million Americans. It is estimated that 1 in 133 people in the United States has the condition, although many don't know that they do.
Coeliac disease is a common digestive condition where a person is intolerant (has an adverse reaction) to the protein gluten. If someone with coeliac disease is exposed to gluten, they may experience a wide range of symptoms and adverse effects, including:
- abdominal pain
The symptoms of coeliac disease are caused by the immune system (the body’s natural defence system against infection) mistaking gluten for a hostile organism, such as a virus. The immune system attacks the gluten, which can lead to the small intestine becoming damaged.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein that is found in three types of cereal:
Gluten is found in any food that contains the above cereals including:
most type of bread
Celiac disease affects people differently. There are hundreads of signs and symptoms of celiac disease, yet many people with celiac disease have no symptoms at all. In those cases, the undamaged part of their small intestine is able to absorb enough nutrients to prevent symptoms. However, people without symptoms are still at risk for some of the complications of celiac disease.
Coeliac disease is known as a 'multi-system' disorder - symptoms can affect any area of the body. Symptoms differ between individuals in terms of type and severity. Some people develop celiac disease as children, others as adults. Symptoms of celiac disease may include one or more of the following:
- Recurring abdominal bloating and pain
- Chronic diarrhea/constipation
- Liver and biliary tract disorders ("Transaminitis," fatty liver, primary sclerosing cholangitis etc.)
- Weight loss
- Pale, foul-smelling stool
- Iron-deficiency anemia that does not respond to iron therapy
- Failure to thrive or short stature
- Delayed puberty
- Pain in the joints
- Tingling numbness in the legs
- Pale sores inside the mouth
- A skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH)
- Tooth discoloration or loss of enamel
- Unexplained infertility, recurrent miscarriage
- Osteopenia (mild) or osteoporosis (more serious bone density problem)
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression
Treatment or cure options:
Celiac disease is genetic. Blood tests can help your doctor diagnose the disease. Your doctor may also need to examine a small piece of tissue from your small intestine. Treatment is a diet free of gluten.
There is no cure for coeliac disease, but switching to a gluten-free diet should help control the condition’s symptoms. Without treatment, coeliac disease can cause a wide range of potential long-term complications such as:
osteoporosis (weakening of the bones)
The good news about Celiac Disease is that if it's caught early enough and treatment--the gluten free diet--is stricly followed the body can return to full health!
Adhering to a gluten free diet, while still challenging, is becoming easier to do as more and more gluten free products come to market. Similarly, as awareness of celiac disease rises, the treatment for it is becoming more "socially acceptable."
It is important to remember that for someone with celiac disease, following the gluten free diet is not a trend or an option, rather it is a medically required prescription.
A registered dietitian, trained in the gluten free diet and celiac disease, can be a great asset in treating the disease.
How's it diagnosed?
A specialised blood test has been developed to help doctors decide whether or not a patient has coeliac disease.When to see a doctor?Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. If someone in your family has celiac disease, ask your doctor whether you may be at risk of the disease. Your doctor may recommend testing, because celiac disease tends to run in families.
Seek medical attention for a child who is pale, irritable and fails to grow, and who has a potbelly and foul-smelling, bulky stools. Other conditions can cause these same signs and symptoms, so discuss it with your child's doctor before trying a gluten-free diet.
Coeliac disease can be managed by lifelong adherence to a strict gluten free diet. A person with coeliac disease can still enjoy a varied diet if they fully understand the gluten free diet. Foods to avoid include meat products containing gluten, some diary products, baked goods and pastas and some drinks and alcoholic drinks. Despite the restrictions, a person with coeliac disease can still enjoy a wide and varied diet. Corn (maize), rice, soy, potato, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, lentils and amaranth are all gluten free. It is important to consult with a dietitian with experience in coeliac disease.
* The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center have mission to raise awareness and diagnosis rates nationwide and meet the critical needs of people affected by celiac disease through education, research and advocacy.
* Kidshealth.org explains "Celiac Disease"
* Get Celiac disease and gluten-free diet information at 'Celiac.com'