When someone has Celiac Disease it means they cannot consume a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, some oats and their cross bred grains, called gluten. When gluten is consumed by these individuals, it causes an immune response of the small intestine, where the villi found in the small intestine are flattened, and in return, cannot absorb nutrients such as protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, which are necessary for good health. When nutrients cannot be absorbed properly this then effects the rest of the body’s systems due to malnutrition and thus a variety of symptoms occur within the body. This is why it is called an autoimmune disease.
It is not a food intolerance that can be shaken off within a few days or weeks. When even one crumb enters the body of a celiac, it can take up to 6-12 months (or even longer) to heal the damage caused. One crumb, that is all it takes to make a celiac sick for months. This is why it is so important that people become more educated on the difference between celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance.
This disease is estimated to effect about 1% of the population; both men and women are at risk. However, only those who have the genetic predisposition will develop celiac disease, this means it is hereditary and runs in families. It is also important to note that if you have the celiac gene, it means you are at risk of developing it, but, it does not mean that you definitely have the disease. People with a first-degree relative with celiac disease (parent, child, sibling) have a 1 in 10 risk of developing celiac disease. Celiac disease can develop at any age after people start eating foods or medicines that contain gluten. Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to additional serious health problems.
People may also find out they have celiac disease after incidences such as: pregnancy, birth, emotional stress, surgery, accidents, or a trauma. Celiac disease can also commonly occur in people with type-1 diabetes and thyroid disease.
A variety of symptoms can occur with celiac disease. There are the classical (typical) symptoms of celiac disease, which include:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
Then there is also the non-classical (atypical) symptoms of celiac disease which include, but are not restricted to, the following:
- Extreme fatigue
- Oral ulcers/gum bleeding
- Liver enzyme abnormalities
- Dental enamel defects
- Neurological problems in the central and peripheral systems
- Brain fog
- Lactose intolerance
- Pancreatic insufficiency
- Intestinal lymphomas and other GI cancers (malignancies)
- Gall bladder malfunction
- Neurological manifestations, including ataxia, epileptic seizures, dementia, migraine, neuropathy, myopathy and multifocal leucoencephalopathy
- Children can present with short stature, irritability and vomiting, amongst other symptoms
Another common symptom is a skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis. This is a bubbling, itchy and sometimes painful rash that shows up on hands, elbows, buttocks and knees as common areas.
It is very common that classical symptoms to not occur in people with celiac disease, therefore, a late diagnosis can occur. Most people with celiac disease do not know they have it. Doctors and researchers believe that as few as 20% of people with the disease receive the right diagnosis. The damage to your intestine is very slow, and symptoms are so varied that it can take years to get a diagnosis.
The only cure for celiac disease is a lifetime adherence to a gluten free diet. This becomes very difficult with processed foods, restaurants, or a friend/families home.
If within a year of eating a gluten free diet, your symptoms have not subsided, this is called refractory or non-responsive celiac disease. Please note that cross contamination of gluten can easily occur, and this can be a reason for you to still have symptoms even when you think you are achieving a gluten free diet.
This is just a small introduction into what I intend to write about. I have a huge amount of information I would like to write about and I am very excited to do so. It is my goal to bring more awareness to this disease to hopefully help people who have just been diagnosed, have known for many years and have questions, or people who are curious to learn more.
Please follow along or share if you are interested, all posts and information I will be writing can be found in the Celiac Disease section of my blog. Click Here to go to the blog page.
You can also find more information at these great and reputable sites:
Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:
This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness. You must consult with your professional health care provider before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking, varying the dosage of or ceasing to take any medication.