What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease (also known as coelic disease) is an autoimmune disease that primarily affects the small intestine. Foods that contain a protein called gluten triggers auto immune responses (i.e. autoantibodies produced from the) body’s immune system which in turn atrophies the villi projections on the small intestinal walls.

Celiac disease symptoms
Celiac disease symptoms

This makes the small intestine not to absorb nutrients in foods which in turn leads to malnutrition.

Gluten can be found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye etc.

Celiac disease symptoms are easy to discover if you eat gluten-rich foods.

Children responds poorly to celiac diseases and some of the symptoms of celiac disease in children are poor bones development, weight loss and diarrhea.

Doctors do perform endoscopy, a biopsy examination of the small intestine to investigate the extent of damage to the small intestine.

A study report has suggested that people who suffer from the following autoimmune diseases are at a higher risk of having celiac disease:

  1. lupus
  2. rheumatoid arthritis
  3. thyroid disease
  4. autoimmune liver disease
  5. Addison’s disease
  6. Sjogren’s syndrome
  7. Down syndrome
  8. Turner syndrome
  9. intestinal cancer

Other conditions that may exhibit the same symptoms as celiac disease are irritable bowel syndrome and food intolerance.

Signs of celiac disease can be very easy to spot especially in children due to the fact that they exhibit the symptoms more faster.

Some of the signs are as follows:

  1. Mouth ulcer. This may happen due to malabsorption of vitamin C along with other vitamins such as vitamin – A, D, E and K in the food by the small intestine.
  2. Lactose intolerance.
  3. Anemia may result from malabsorption of folic acid, vitamin B12.
  4. Calcium malabsorption may give rise to compensatory secondary hyperthyroidism and osteoporosis.
  5. Malabsorption of fats and carbohydrate lead to weight loss.
  6. Delayed puberty in girls.
  7. Celiac disease may lead to lymphoma of the bowel.
  8. Gall bladder malfunction.
  9. Pancreatic insufficiency.
  10. Neurological diseases such as epileptic seizures, migraine and dementia among others.

Symptoms of celiac disease

Celiac disease exhibit drastic symptoms due to its adherence to absorption of food nutrients in the gut.

The following are the symptoms of celiac disease:

  1. Changes in bowel movement.
  2. Stomach bloating.
  3. Diarrhea which results in fatigue.
  4. Body weakness.
  5. Weight loss.
  6. Abdominal cramps and pain.
  7. Pale, voluminous and odorous feces.
  8. Brittle bones due to poor calcium absorption.

Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) an itchy skin kind of rash is another example of common celiac disease symptoms.

It only affects about 15-25% of celiac disease sufferers according to a study.

Celiac disease could be diagnosed through the following tests:

  1. complete blood count (CBC)
  2. liver function tests.
  3. cholesterol test.
  4. alkaline phosphatase level test.
  5. serum albumin test.

People who suffer from DH may not have Celiac disease symptoms but this can only be established after a skin biopsy has been done with convulsive diagnosis.

After a successful diagnosis has been made, treatment may commence, intestinal biopsy might be necessary to examine the extent of damage to the small intestine.

Withdrawal from gluten based diets will help to heal three intestine faster, but this should only be done after a successful diagnosis to eliminate other conditions.

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