Celiac Disease: Symptoms, Causes and Diagnosis
Symptoms of this disease include diarrhea, bloating, gas, anemia, and growth issues which can damage the small intestine.
New Delhi: Celiac disease (also known as celiac sprue) is a disorder in which the mucosa of the small bowel is damaged due to activation of the mucosal immune system by ingestion of gluten, a protein component found in wheat, barley, and rye. People, who have HLA-DQ2 or DQ8 are susceptible to this condition because of these specific antigen-presenting proteins.
Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disease. It is an immune reaction that triggers by a protein called gluten. Symptoms of this disease include diarrhea, bloating, gas, anemia, and growth issues which can damage the small intestine. This disease can be avoided by changing the diet to avoid gluten. It is also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy.
It is a digestive and multisystem disorder because it may affect several organs.
Celiac disease in children:
Celiac disease can occur at any stage in life and young children who are suffering from the same may have symptoms like: Chronic diarrhea, failure to thrive, muscle wasting, abdominal distention, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
Older children may have symptoms like anemia, rickets, behavioral disturbances, while in some children may witness constipation, pseudo-obstruction, and intussusception as symptoms.
Consuming gluten triggers the abnormal immune system response that causes celiac disease. It attacks the lining of the intestine and causes swelling in the intestines and damages the villi, the hair-like structures on the lining of the small intestine. A person with celiac disease ends up with malnourished because of damaged villi. No matter how much he or she eats, the person cannot absorb nutrients.
Symptoms appear in the first 3 years of life after cereals are introduced to the diet. The second peak is in the third decade. Symptoms may vary from person to person, but they include the following:
1] Some patients have no symptoms
2] Many digestive problems rise up including abdominal bloating, pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea, pale stools and weight loss.
3] It causes severe blistering skin rash and sores in the mouth called dermatitis herpetiformis and aphthous ulcers simultaneously.
4] It causes low blood count and inflammation of the liver.
5] It can create musculoskeletal problems including muscle cramps, joint, and bone pain, and brings defects in dental enamel.
6] In children it affects their growth which leads to their failure to thrive because they cannot absorb the nutrients.
7] It lowers the calcium and damages the nerve which leads to a tingling sensation in the legs.
8] This also leads to depression in many cases.
This disease is associated with a higher risk of brain damage and mental health issue discovered by brain images and cognitive test scores. Overall, it leads to anemia, infertility, osteoporosis, and in extreme cases cancer.
The disease is being recognized more often nowadays thanks to increasingly available testing methods and better awareness of the disease and its complications.
Healthcare experts will look into the medical history and perform a physical examination. A blood test is required to measure levels of antibodies to gluten and also to detect iron levels. A low level of iron can occur with celiac disease. Other important tests include taking a biopsy from the small intestine to check for damage to the villi.
In this case, it is great to visit a dietitian for formal diet instruction. The diet should be gluten-free excluding wheat, rye, and barley; this eventually improves the condition within a few days. It requires months to years to heal the villi. An adult takes longer to heal the intestine as compared to a child, which is two to three years for an adult, and about six months for a child.
The patients need to visit the doctor every 3 months, 6 months, and then every year. The patient needs to follow the particular diet for the rest of your life which does not include any gluten because a small amount of gluten can damage the intestine and restart the problem. The prognosis with effective treatment is very good.
"Staples," including pasta, cereals, and many processed foods also contain gluten. Patients should also avoid food where gluten is used to improve texture or flavor.
One with celiac disease can still eat a well-balanced diet because there are some food companies and some grocery stores that can make gluten-free bread and products. Adopting such diets does not affect celiac patients.
Apart from these, one can also eat fresh foods that have not been artificially processed, such as fruits, vegetables, meats and fish, since these do not contain gluten.
Research finds that a gluten-free diet is not helping 1 in 5 children. A disciplined patient with a strict diet is only 44 percent, but they are also getting glutened once a month. A celiac patient pays 40 percent more than an average person in annual health care costs.