What is Celiac Disease?
This is an autoimmune disorder that affects your digestive system that can cause you to have intolerance for gluten protein and damage to your small intestine. It is considered a silent but deadly disease. The gluten protein can be found in barley and wheat. In the United States there are almost three million people who have this medical condition. It can affect people of all ages. The earliest known record of celiac disease was found in the second century A. D. when the condition was described by Aretaeus of Cappadocia, a Greek physician. In the United States, people who have this affliction only three percent are actually diagnosed with celiac disease. The disease can be difficult to diagnose because other diseases have similar symptoms to celiac disease.
Celiac Disease Symptoms
Celiac disease has not typical symptoms but there are general complaints like:
- Having diarrhea that is intermittent, constipation that is regular, or a combination of both.
- Having abdominal pain
Sometimes people have no gastrointestinal symptoms. Because there are no typical symptoms of celiac disease but general symptoms instead the disease could be confused with other condition like gastric ulcers, parasite infection, irritable bowel syndrome, anemia, and Crohn’s disease.
Celiac disease can also show itself in other ways that are not as obvious like:
- Being depressed or irritable
- Having anemia
- Upset stomach
- Pain in the joints
- Muscle cramps
- Rash on your skin
- Sores in the mouth
- Bone and dental disorders
- Tingling in your feet and legs.
Some symptoms of malabsorption of some nutrients that can happen from celiac disease may include:
- Weight loss
- General fatigue and weakness
- Stools that are grayish or foul-smelling that could be oily or fatty
- Stunted growth
- Gas, abdominal cramps. Bloating
- Recurrent miscarriages, infertility, menstrual periods that are irregular
Celiac Disease Causes
Although there is no clear reason what causes celiac disease physicians say that there is something in a person’s body that causes their immune system to have a allergic reaction to gluten. It is triggered by people who consume gluten protein, which can be found in rye, wheat, and barley. This causes the destruction of small intestine’s inner lining. There is evidence that celiac disease is partially inherited and partially genetic. If a person has certain genes your risk for developing celiac disease increases. If you have a mother, brother, father, or sister with this condition you may have these genes and get this disease. In addition environmental factors like bacterial or viral infections could cause changes in their small intestine of the person with these genes.
Celiac Disease Diagnosis
Celiac disease is diagnosed by a variety of procedures and tests such as:
Blood tests— doing a blood test can help detect levels of certain antibiotics that are higher than they should be. These antibodies are part of the immune system and are specialized proteins. They are used to eliminate substances in your body that are foreign. If you have this disease your immune system may recognize the gluten as a substance that is foreign to your body resulting in an increase of the antibodies to rid your body of this foreign substance.
Taking a tiny sample of your small intestine to test to see if there is any change in the villi in your small intestine.
Having the patient swallow a camera pill which will collect pictures of your entire small intestine. As the camera pill goes through your digestive tract the thousand of images it takes is sent to a recorder the patient wears on their belt. The camera pill is expelled in your stool and is just flushed.
Celiac Disease Treatment
Although there is no cure for celiac disease there are ways that you can manage it and that is by changing how you eat. When you make changes to your diet you need to make sure that you avoid all foods that contain gluten, which can include:
In order to make sure that you are excluding foods with gluten in it you should ask your physician to refer you to a dietician to help you set up the correct diet plan. Once you have changed your diet and eliminated gluten from your diet you should notice that the inflammation in the small intestine will start to go away. This can take several weeks but there is a possibility that you can start feeling better in a few days. It can take many months for the villi, which are projections that are finger-like in your intestines that help your body more efficiently absorb food, to re-grow and heal completely. It may even take a couple of years. If you forget and eat something with gluten in it you may have diarrhea and abdominal pain.
In order to take care of malnutrition if you have severe nutritional deficiencies your physician may suggest that you take mineral and vitamin supplements. Your dietician or physician may recommend taking supplements to increase the levels of:
- Vitamin B-12
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K
If your digestive tract cannot absorb the vitamins in pill form your physician may give them to you via injection. If the inflammation in your small intestine is severe the physician may give your steroids to help control the inflammation. Steroids can also give you relief from the severe symptoms associated with celiac disease until your new diet takes effect.
Before you purchase any pre-made or prepackaged foods make sure that you read the label to insure that it is gluten-free.
Celiac Disease Pictures
Pictures of Celiac Disease…