Signs & Symptoms, Causes and Treatment of Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate a protein called gluten, found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is found mainly in foods but may also be found in products we use every day, such as stamp and envelope adhesive, medicines, and vitamins.
Eventually, decreased absorption of nutrients (malabsorption) can cause vitamin deficiencies that deprive your brain, peripheral nervous system, bones, liver and other organs of vital nourishment, which can lead to other illnesses. The decreased nutrient absorption that occurs in celiac disease is especially serious in children, who need proper nutrition to develop and grow.
How did get celiac disease?
Celiac disease runs in the family. You inherited the tendency to get this disease from your parents. If 1 member of your family has celiac disease, about 1 out of 10 other members of your family is likely to have it. You may have this tendency for a while without getting sick. Then something like severe stress, physical injury, infection, childbirth or surgery can “turn on” your celiac disease.
Signs & Symptoms of Celiac Disease
Celiac disease affects each person differently. Symptoms may occur in the digestive system, or in other parts of the body. One person might have diarrhea and abdominal pain, while another person may be irritable or depressed. Irritability is one of the most common symptoms in children. Some people have no symptoms.
The three major categories of dietary nutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fat. Absorption of all of these nutrients can be reduced in celiac disease; however, fat is the most commonly and severely affected nutrient. Most of the gastrointestinal symptoms and signs of celiac disease are due to the inadequate absorption of fat (fat malabsorption). Gastrointestinal symptoms of fat malabsorption include diarrhea, malodorous flatulence (foul smelling gas), abdominal bloating, and increased amounts of fat in the stool (steatorrhea).
Symptoms of celiac disease may or may not occur in the digestive system. For example, one person might have diarrhea and abdominal pain, while another person has irritability or depression. In fact, irritability is one of the most common symptoms in children.
How is Celiac Disease treated?
Once the diagnosis of celiac disease (CD) has been confirmed, treatment can begin immediately. It does not require surgery. It does not require an unending dependence on medication. It does not even require repeated visits to the doctor’s office. The best and only known treatment for CD is simply this: a lifelong elimination of “gluten”.
Celiac disease is treated by avoiding all foods that contain gluten. Gluten is what causes inflammation in the small bowel. When this is removed from the diet, the bowel will heal and return to normal. Medications are not normally required to treat CD except in occasional patients who do not respond to a gluten free diet.