What Is Celiac Disease?
What Is Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is a condition that affects the digestive system. A person with celiac disease cannot tolerate the substance called gluten which is found in barley, wheat and rye. If a person with celiac eats foods containing gluten it causes their immune system to respond by attacking villi. These are the very small fingerlike protrusions that line the small intestine.
Villi are responsible for allowing the nutrients from foods to be absorbed through the walls of the small intestine into the bloodstream. If they are damaged the person will become malnourished even when they eat regularly.
One of the biggest problems a person with this condition has is that gluten is not just found in foods. It’s also used in everyday products you wouldn’t suspect such as lip balms, medicines, shampoos and vitamins. These must be avoided as well.
Celiac disease is genetic and will run in families although it may need to be triggered before it becomes active. This can happen if a person goes through some traumatic experience such as surgery, severe emotional and mental stress, viral infections and in some cases childbirth.
There are several symptoms associated with celiac disease which include weight loss, chronic diarrhea, vomiting, light foul-smelling stool and abdominal pain, irritability and bloating. These problems are mostly found in children with this disease but they can be present in adults as well.
Celiac disease can affect the growth of a child and cause short stature, delayed puberty and permanent tooth defects.
Adults will have a variety of other symptoms, such as:
Arthritis or other joint pain
Depression and/or anxiety
Tingling and numbness in feet and hands
Iron deficiency anemia
Missed menstrual cycle
Adults can have one of these symptoms or several of them at one time. It’s even possible not to have any symptoms at all for a while, but complications that are a result of the disease could eventually develop. Some of these include liver diseases, intestine cancer, osteoporosis, anemia, autoimmune liver disease, diabetes and miscarriages.
Celiac disease affects people in a variety of different ways depending on their age, sex and lifestyle. This is the main reason why it’s so hard to diagnose. In the past, this disease was thought to be rare but as more research has been done it’s now known that it is a common genetic disorder. There is only one treatment that will work and that is a gluten free diet and avoiding products that contain gluten.