Celiac disease symptoms will vary from person to person and this article will help you sift through the confusing symptoms of celiac disease so you can better understand how to handle this condition. This is primarily a disorder of the small intestine which prevents the absorption of nutrients. With this condition the lining of the small intestine is irritated when an individual eats certain foods that contain ingredients such as gluten, wheat, barley or rye resulting in symptoms that can range from diarrhea to constipation.
This disorder, which also goes by the name of Sprue or Gluten Intolerance, can develop at any stage of life and those with a family history of Celiac Disease are at greater risk of developing the disorder.
Celiac Disease Symptoms And Causes
Symptoms can develop in infants when they begin eating foods that contain gluten (a protein found in wheat and other grains) however, symptoms may also develop in adulthood.
Symptoms will vary from one individual to the next but can cause many gastrointestinal symptoms such as:
- Diarrhea (loose, pale, and foul-smelling)
- General changes in stool (the stool may be bloody, foul-smelling or float)
- Abdominal pain, swelling or bloating
- Loss of appetite (some individuals may experience an increase in appetite, while others will have no change)
- Nausea and vomiting
Other symptoms that are not directly related to the gastrointestinal tract yet still may be present include:
- Weight loss
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Ulcers in the mouth
- Swelling in the legs and possibly a tingling or burning sensation in the hands or feet
- Bruising easily
- Hair Loss
- Muscle cramps
- Delay in a child’s growth
- Vitamin or mineral deficiency (i.e. iron, folate, Vitamin K)
As for the cause, celiac disease is an inherited disease that runs in some families of European ancestry. It is classified as an autoimmune disease, which means that the individual’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy cells, tissues and organs. Women are more commonly affected than men.
Celiac Disease Diagnosis And Treatment
Diagnosis will first be determined by the observation of aforementioned symptoms by a person with the disease. A physical examination will be necessary to confirm the diagnosis and may include analysis of blood and stool samples, or a biopsy of the small intestine (celiac disease is not cancerous).
For treatment an individual will need to eat a gluten-free diet (avoid wheat, rye, oats, barley, and many prepared foods that contain gluten). It is necessary to read food and medication labels carefully to avoid these food sources.
Following a gluten-free diet can be challenging but many gluten-free products are now on the market and there are more opportunities for education than in years past, which can guide an individual through this dietary change. There are also registered dieticians and Celiac Disease Support Groups available for additional assistance.
A physician or dietician may recommend supplementing the diet with iron, folic acid, and calcium.