Celiac disease symptoms vary widely among sufferers and most people who have the disease go undiagnosed. The most common symptoms are digestive problems such as gas, abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, anemia, pale stools, diarrhea, weight loss, and dermatitis herpetiformis (a skin rash). Symptoms can range from very mild to extremely severe and can last from a few hours up to a few days after gluten has been consumed.
Celiac disease sufferers are found to carry both or one of the HLA DQ2 or DQ8 genes. A blood test is done to determine the presence of the gene, and a biopsy of the small intestine will confirm if celiac disease is present. Sometimes the disease becomes active for the first time during pregnancy, after childbirth, after a viral infection, after surgery, or after severe emotional stress. When you consume gluten, the immune system overreacts causing discomfort and damage to the tiny villi (hair-like projections) that line the walls of the intestine. The reaction is not a typical allergic reaction and won’t cause anaphylactic shock, but does cause painful discomfort and possible complications.
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Symptoms of Celiac Disease
- Excessive wind, occasional diarrhea, or constipation
- Bloating, cramping, and recurrent abdominal pain
- Anemia (low blood count)
- Easy bruising
- Unexplained and persistent gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and nausea
- Tiredness, lethargy, or depression
- Dental problems
- Joint and bone pains
- Alopecia (hair loss)
- Dermatitis herpetiformis (skin rash)
- Recurrent mouth ulcers or swelling of the tongue or mouth
- Iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12 deficiency
- Liver abnormalities.
- Repeated miscarriages.
- Unexpected or sudden weight loss (some people may gain weight).
- Peripheral neuropathy (tingling and numbness in the hands and feet)
- Neurological problems (nerve) such as ataxia (poor balance or loss of coordination)
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you may have Celiac disease. The first step is to speak with your health practitioner who will arrange for a test to be done if necessary. For an accurate diagnosis, it is important not to discontinue the use of gluten until the test has been done. If you are unsure, you can take an online Celiac assessment test which is a short questionnaire regarding your symptoms and other risk factors. Some symptoms may be due to a wheat intolerance or irritable bowel syndrome and mistaken for Celiac disease. Sometimes these symptoms are merely due to old age in the elderly or unusual stress during exceptional circumstances. Getting a correct diagnosis may take some time, so be patient.
The common perception is that Celiac disease sufferers are underweight; however, most are not, and some are even overweight. People who experience the following disorders should be screened for Celiac disease:
- Liver disease
- Family history of Celiac disease
- Early onset osteoporosis
- Autoimmune disease
- Type 1 diabetes
- Autoimmune thyroid condition
- Unexplained infertility
After being diagnosed with Celiac disease, it is important to follow a strict gluten-free diet that will help the small bowel to start healing, relieve the symptoms and reduce the long term risk of serious complications. Everybody with Celiac disease is at risk of complications if they do not adhere strictly to treatment that includes a gluten-free diet. Even if a person is asymptomatic (no visible Celiac disease symptoms are present) and there is no pain, there could still be damage to the bowel that will become worse if gluten is ingested. This means that regardless of the severity of the symptoms, every person diagnosed with Celiac disease should permanently cut out gluten from their diet to reduce the risk of damage and complications.
What Causes Celiac Disease?
There are a variety of reasons as to why a person contracts this disease. However, Celiac disease is often believed to be a type of genetic disorder. What this means is that if the child, parent, grandparents or even their siblings have this disease, a person can be susceptible to getting this disease. But having these genes does not mean you will contract the disease. There are a variety of factors that should be considered before focusing on one.
If Celiac disease runs in the family, it is recommended that you take a test for Celiac disease. The other reasons related to the causes of Celiac disease include the following:
- In some cases, viral infections that affect the intestines results in the infection latching onto the intestines that lead to celiac disease
- Emotional trauma is also linked to causing this disease. For this reason, the maintenance of mental health is essential
- Women that are pregnant are also more likely to contract the disease when they eat food types which contain gluten. The reason for this that gluten is the main component for the causes of this disease
- Gluten that is mainly found in rye, barley and wheat is classified as a protein which is recognized as the main reason causing or initiating celiac disease
- Over and above gluten, there are other diseases which are also associated with increasing the risks of contracting the disease such as Addison’s disease, Autoimmune Thyroid disease, Turner syndrome, Down syndrome and more
- In children, the correct nutrition is vital. A diet that is low in nutrition and unhealthy increases the likelihood of stunted development and abnormal growth. This, in turn, cause damage to the bones and the liver and can even affect brain development
- There are specific types of environmental factors that can also trigger the condition. People of all ages can contract this disease, but a variety of studies have shown that menopause, pregnancy, and types of anti-acne medications can result in celiac disease
Treatments And Tests For Celiac Disease
Numerous studies and research show that the majority of affected people typically contract the disease genetically. It is still unknown why the disease occurs and as to why certain types of individuals happen to be more susceptible than others. Ambiguity in these origins along with causes of this disease is what makes it necessary to seek medical attention.
With this disease that affects a large percentage of people along with producing many dietary restraints along with staging the beginning of a variety of fatal diseases, it is vital to undergo testing straight away. To date, the more preferred test for this disease is an intestinal biopsy. This identifies damaged and affected cells and the gluten-reactive cells along with any antibodies inside the intestines.
Once the disease has been diagnosed a strict diet that is gluten free needs to be maintained. If you are diagnosed with the disease, you need to contact a physician or nutritionist to develop a diet that you will need to follow.
The intestinal auto-biopsy is used mainly to assess two things. This will include whether a gluten-free diet can improve the symptoms of celiac disease and the second is whether you are showing symptoms associated with other types of gastronomical diseases. If you are already on a gluten-free diet that already decreases effects of this disease, your physician might ask that you eat gluten to monitor the exact damages. This digestion of gluten needs to be carefully observed so that if the effects you experience are drastic, your doctor can act immediately.
Measures To Take To Avoid Celiac Disease
Since this disease is genetically recognized there are some actions that you can adopt to prevent the disease from progressing. The first is to limit or eliminate your gluten intake when symptoms arise. By monitoring or limiting your gluten intake, you decrease the likelihood of contracting the disease. Another test which can assist is a gene test. This test won’t accentuate or lower the risk of developing the disease but can prepare you in knowing what symptoms to look out for.
A large percentage of the individuals that carry the genes associated with celiac disease, but there is only a few which exhibits the symptoms linked to celiac disease. It is suggested to always choose medical testing to find out about your chances of developing the disease as prevention is far better than having to find a cure.