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Celiac Disease: Everything You Need to Know

Celiac Disease

In this article, we will discover the celiac disease which is one of the diseases that has become quite prevalent in recent decades. The symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, risk factors of celiac disease and other necessary information regarding this lifelong ailment will be available in this article.

Before we start, please note that the information below about celiac disease compiled based on doctors’ views and scientific studies whose links have been given throughout the article.

 

1- What is Celiac Disease


Let’s start with a brief description of celiac disease. This is a chronic allergy and sensitivity of the small intestine to a protein called gluten. Whether this disease is an allergy or an autoimmune disease is still a subject of debate.

Celiac disease occurs when a celiac patient consumes gluten-containing food/s, which we will touch upon in detail below. It is a common disease with an increasing incidence rate each passing day throughout the world. And, it is estimated that approximately 1 out of every 140 Americans has celiac disease even though many of them aren’t aware of it.

 

2-  Celiac Disease Symptoms


For some the disease may be asymptomatic or very mild for years, therefore, the person may not realise the existence of the disease for a long time. Additionally, the disease may begin with typical symptoms or progress with very mild symptoms.

Abdominal pain, diarrhoea, abdominal swelling, weight loss, osteoporosis, waist/joint pains and muscle aches are among the celiac disease symptoms. As indicated above, some individuals may not show any symptoms even though they have celiac disease.

 According to the Celiac Disease Foundation : followings are the main symptoms of Celiac Disease

• Iron-deficiency anaemia

° Fatigue

• Diarrhea

° Bone or joint pain

• Depression

° Bone loss

• Unintended Weight Loss

° Fatty liver

• Vomiting

° Bloating

• Stomach Pain

° Gas

 

3- Diagnosis of Celiac Disease


The symptoms given above are conducive to the diagnosis of celiac disease. However, since these physical symptoms vary from individual to individual and sometimes individuals do not show any symptoms associated with the celiac disease, physical symptoms on their own may not suffice for the definitive diagnosis of the disease.

The diagnosis of this disease is very important to prevent more serious diseases that may occur due to gluten consumption. However, it is important to know that coeliac is one of the most difficult diseases in terms of diagnosis.

Often, doctors can detect the presence of the disease by investigating the patient’s family history, related symptoms, or performing a physical exam.

According to NSH; blood and genetics tests are useful for pre-diagnosis but the exact diagnosis is made with a biopsy in which the small intestine structure is evaluated and a small tissue is taken from the small intestine with endoscopy.

 

4- Risk Factors Celiac Disease


It is a disease everyone from all age groups can develop. Therefore, age, most of the time, is not categorised as a risk factor. However, according to statistics, this disease is more likely to develop in childhood and in the mid-30s.

Gender also isn’t considered as a risk factor in this lifelong disease, because its occurrence rate is almost equal in both sexes. According to Winchester Hospital; some existing medical conditions such as Down SyndromeType 1 diabetes, Turner Syndrome and autoimmune diseases can increase the chance of developing celiac disease.

Additionally, the prevalence of the disease can vary widely between countries and regions. According to well-rounded scientific research; the prevalence rate of celiac disease is high in Europe and the U.S whereas the reported number of people with this disease is scarce in East Asian countries including Japan and China.

 

5- Treatment


Unfortunately, with today’s technology and knowledge, the only cure for this disease is to remove gluten-containing foods from the patient’s diet.

Therefore, foods containing gluten should be well recognized by celiac patients and removed from the diet accordingly. The physician will direct the patient to a registered dietician so that the dietician write the most suitable diet for the patient, after exact the diagnosis.

The patient begins to feel the positive developments in his/her body one week after completely removing gluten from his / her life. However, from time to time, the full recovery may be as long as 1 year. The recovery is more likely to be faster if the patient is a child.

As mentioned above, a celiac patient should exclude all foods containing gluten from their diet. There are no exceptions among the foods containing gluten, therefore, all gluten foods should be excluded from the diet list.

Medical News Today shared a list of foods and drinks that contain gluten. You can click here to see the full list.

6- Risks of Gluten-Free Diet


Vitamin deficiencies, especially vitamin b1, may befall to individuals who follow a gluten-free diet. At the same time, individuals may experience intestinal problems as a result of the decrease in fibre intake that is generally available in the whole-grain products.

In addition, individuals who have limited food options due to a gluten-free diet may face nutrient deficiencies. According to a scientific report; a celiac patient can experience deficiency of essential nutrients due to the fact that of a gluten-free diet is paramount for the patient. For instance; vitamin D, b12, folate, iron, zinc, calcium and mineral may lack in the body due to the gluten-free diet.

Hence, a registered dietician should design the celiac patient’s diet to minimise potential nutrient deficiencies.