Rather shockingly, it is estimated that one in 133 Americans suffers from celiac disease symptoms. This serious genetic autoimmune disease affects genetically predisposed people, resulting in celiac attacks that can harm various bodily organs and functions. At the same time as causing harm, the disease prevents nutrients from being properly absorbed. Even though it’s not to be taken lightly, celiac disease can be treated and kept under control. Without a doubt, opportune testing is key to fighting the disease as it’s important to begin treating it as soon as possible. With that in mind, the present article will go over the disease’s basic features. At the same time, it will provide information regarding its testing and treatment options.
What Is Celiac Disease?
As was previously mentioned, celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. The condition damages the small intestine by producing autoimmune attacks whenever the patient ingests gluten in any form. These autoimmune attacks constitute an abnormal and dangerous response that damages the system instead of protecting it. Among other problems, these attacks damage small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine named Villi. This type of damage provokes a series of celiac disease symptoms and prevents the correct absorption of nutrients.
The origin of celiac disease is genetic and hereditary. As a matter of fact, people with first-degrees relatives that suffer from celiac disease have a one in ten risk of developing the condition themselves throughout their lifetime. Besides producing small intestine damage, celiac disease can lead to other dangerous conditions if left untreated. Some of the most notable are:
- An elevated risk of lymphoma;
- Other autoimmune diseases;
- Thyroid disease;
- An elevated risk of certain cancers.
What Causes Celiac Disease?
Even though the precise cause of celiac disease is not currently known, experts have been able to identify certain genes that increase the chance of getting it. Being genetic in nature, the disease represents a much higher danger for people who have relatives that suffer it. Environmental factors, infant feeding practices, gastrointestinal infections and gut bacteria may also contribute to its development. Of course, not everyone is as likely to suffer from celiac disease symptoms. As a matter of fact, there are certain risk factors that greatly increase the likelihood of developing the disease:
- Family members with celiac disease
- Type one diabetes
- Addison’s disease
- Down syndrome
- Turner syndrome
- Autoimmune thyroid disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Microscopic colitis (lymphocytic or collagenous colitis)
Celiac Disease Symptoms
Because of their dangerousness, the effects of celiac disease have been widely studied, particularly within the last two decades. Signs of celiac disease vary greatly according to the person who suffers them. They can also range from very mild to very extreme. Even though experts are constantly finding a correlation between new symptoms and celiac disease, the most important that are currently known are:
- Loss of bone density
- Softening of bone (osteomalacia)
- Itchy, blistery skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)
- Damage to dental enamel
- Mouth ulcers
- Headaches and fatigue
- Nervous system injuries
- Balance problems
- Cognitive impairment
- Joint pain
- Reduced functioning of the spleen (hyposplenism)
- Acid reflux and heartburn
One of the most notable characteristics of celiac disease is that its symptoms vary depending on whether the sufferer is an adult or a child. These are the most important celiac disease symptoms that affect children:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Swollen belly
- Failure to thrive
- Poor appetite
- Muscle wasting
- Weight loss
- Short stature
- Delayed puberty
How to Test for Celiac Disease
Of course, people who think they are experiencing celiac disease symptoms should get a test for the disease as soon as possible. However, sometimes the disease has not yet developed or its symptoms are so mild they are not yet noticeable. For that reason, there are three main situations in which a person should seriously consider undergoing a celiac disease test:
- Experiencing celiac disease symptoms;
- Having first-degree relatives that suffer from celiac disease;
- Having any autoimmune disorder or condition.
Although there are several different tests that can be used to test for celiac disease, the most common one is denominated tTG-IgA. In order for this test to work, the patient must have been consuming gluten during the days leading up to it. The doctor will recommend a small intestine biopsy if the test shows the possibility of celiac disease. Additionally, genetic testing is capable of indicating whether the person carries the HLA DQ2 and DQ8 genes that are present in all celiac disease cases. This will allow experts to rule out celiac disease whenever the genes are not present.
Celiac Disease Treatment
To the dismay of more than one, there are currently no drugs or surgical procedures that treat celiac disease. Unfortunately, the only way to keep the condition in check is to go on a well-planned and permanent celiac disease diet. By eliminating products that contain gluten from their diet completely, sufferers of the disease can live a healthy life without celiac attacks. Besides greatly reducing (and eventually eliminating) celiac disease symptoms, a well-established celiac disease diet will ensure that sufferers of the condition get the nutrients they need.
Although gluten is most-famously an ingredient in bread, cakes, and other baking goods, it is also in other foods. Celiac disease sufferers will need to live without things like beer, pasta, and cereals of most kinds. Additionally, they will have to avoid other types of products like certain kinds of toothpaste, dietary supplements, and medications. Besides these restrictions, celiac disease sufferers will often be prescribed gluten-free vitamins and mineral supplements that will help them combat nutritional deficiencies caused by the disease.
Running a Diagnostic
In conclusion, celiac disease is an unfortunate problem that causes its sufferers to have a limited and restrictive diet. However, it’s not a condition that’s life threatening or dangerous as long as it’s properly treated. Unavoidably, a healthy gluten-free diet is mandatory for those who suffer celiac disease. However, each day there are more dietary options specially designed for people with this problem. Do you suffer from celiac disease or know anyone who does? Let us know how you take care of yourself in the comment section!
Image from depositphotos.com.
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