By the time people are finally diagnosed with this condition they usually are very familiar with it. Nevertheless, for family members and friends who don’t realize what it is, celiac disease affects the digestive tract. The condition is specifically triggered by eating meals that contain the protein gluten. The intake of gluten can cause deficits in absorption of vitamin, mineral and other necessary nutritious foods. People who are afflicted with the disease will be required to follow a lifelong rigid diet. Unfortunately, there is no treatment that will cure celiac disease and any claims of cures should be regarded with caution and skepticism. The illness also is known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy.
This damage also limits the small intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients, which then creates other problems. Since the body begins to lose its capability to process necessary nutrients, other illnesses can easily arise. This threat of nutrition deficiency is even higher in kids who have the disease. Children with the disease manifest symptoms such as slow growth, tendency to vomit, a bloated abdomen and changes in behavior. Adults can encounter fatigue, missed menstrual periods, canker sores in the mouth, recurring bloating or gas, chronic diarrhea or constipation, unexplained weight loss or gain, Vitamin K deficiencies and tooth discolorations or loss of enamel.
Although the exact cause of celiac disease has not been determined, it is known that it passes down through families. If an immediate family member has it, that chances are between 5 and 15 percent that you may also develop the disease. Symptoms can start at any age, but they are usually brought on by gluten entering the diet. However, in some cases, the disease has been known to develop after traumatic events like extreme stress, infection or childbirth. The first occurrence of the disease is completely unpredictable. Because of this, you should immediately talk to your doctor about any abnormalities or potential symptoms. As with most diseases, the earlier they are diagnosed the better chance you have of effectively fighting it. You also need to be aware that many times there are misdiagnoses of celiac or confusion of celiac disease with other sicknesses, as well as reports of the illness going undiagnosed for long periods.
Because the symptoms are not that apparent, celiac disease could easily be confused with some common allergic reactions. The disease can cause a range of symptoms that could also have other causes. Examples are gastric ulcers, mouth sores, skin rash, anemia, intermittent diarrhea, stomach upset, bloating, joint discomfort and some abdominal pain. To further complicate things, though, sometimes people don’t display any digestive symptoms at all. Nevertheless, even without apparent digestive upset individuals with celiac can suffer weight loss, diarrhea, abdomen pains, foul smelling stools, and osteoporosis.
Still unknown is exactly why gluten damages the intestinal lining. For a time it was thought that the disease only affected Europeans, but several recent studies have shown that celiac can affect anyone regardless of ethnic background. In the United States, one in 133 people have this disease. Although research suggests that the disease may have genetic origins, there are no commonalities that have been discovered between patients as yet.
Even though there is no cure for this disease, there are ways to fight it. First, and most importantly, is a change to a gluten free diet. Gluten absolutely must be avoided to have any hope of preventing small intestine inflammation. Some examples of foods to put on the do not eat list are breads, cereals, crackers, pasta, cookies, cakes and pies, gravies and sauces, unless they are gluten free. Also important in a gluten free diet is the consuming of the proper amounts of fresh meat, fish and poultry, dairy products, fruits and of course veggies. Once a person has made these changes, they will discover that the diet options are not as limited as first thought. Excellent replacements for wheat products can be found in rice and potato based foods. Nutritional supplements should also be taken regularly to compensate for the malnutrition caused by the illness.
Each day can be a difficult, particularly for those who are newly diagnosed. But, over time, however, the management of celiac will become second nature. In order to effectively cope with the disease, it is important to talk to others with the same condition who know what you are going through. Enlisting Families and friends as core support is also important and can serve as a lifeline during especially difficult periods. The fighting is a lifelong one and it should not be done alone.