Celiac disease is a common genetic disorder affecting many individuals world wide including approximately two million people in the United States. This disease also commonly occurs in individuals who have Turner and Down syndrome. Celiac disease affects the digestive system causing an intolerance of products or foods that contain gluten.
This is an extremely challenging disease to manage and control as the patient’s diet is strictly limited due to the fact that gluten is a protein that is found in rye, barley, and wheat, which is contained in numerous foods. When gluten is consumed, it causes an immune system reaction that begins to destroy the villi which is part of the lining of the small intestine and causes the inability of the intestines to absorb the essential nutrients our body needs from food.
The Symptoms Associated with Celiac Disease
The numerous symptoms that can occur due to celiac disease can differ significantly from one individual to another and also make it a hard condition to diagnose as many of the symptoms are also associated with other conditions and disorders of the digestive system.
These symptoms not only affect the digestive system, but can occur in other areas of the body and include abdominal pain and bloating, chronic constipation or diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and stools that are fatty, pale in color, or have a foul smelling odor.
Symptoms that may occur in other parts of the body and may not be immediately recognized as being caused by this disease include fatigue, arthritis, an iron deficiency that is unexplained, anxiety or depression, canker sores of the mouth, an itchy rash, seizures, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, irregular menstrual periods, infertility or miscarriages, osteoporosis or bone loss, and pain in the joints or bones.
While researchers have not been able to find a definitive cause of celiac disease or why the symptoms vary so significantly among individuals, they have identified some factors that may play a role in when and how the signs and symptoms of this disease appear. These factors include how long an individual was breastfed, when the individual began consuming foods that contain gluten, as well as the amount of gluten that is being consumed.
Treatment for Celiac Disease
The only form of treatment for celiac disease is the elimination of gluten from the patient’s diet. This can be quite challenging given the fact that so many foods contain gluten and it is sometimes “hidden” particularly in most processed foods. When a patient is initially diagnosed with celiac disease it is typically recommended that they consult with a dietician who specializes in gluten-free diets.
A common issue that causes the recurring symptoms of celiac disease is when the patient is consuming small amounts of gluten unintentionally as they are unaware of the foods that contain hidden or trace amounts of gluten such as found in certain additives and preservatives, or are manufactured in plants that produce other wheat products and utilize the same machinery which then “contaminates” the other foods with wheat gluten.
If you suffer from celiac disease, it is essential that you educate yourself as much as you can about this disease and follow a gluten-free diet in order to prevent serious complications or further damage from occurring to the intestines.