What is Celiacs Disease?

What is Celiacs Disease?

Did you know?: May is Celiacs Disease Awareness month!

In this blog post, you’ll get the basic run down of what Celiacs Disease is, why and how it happens and works, and more! Keep reading to learn all about Celiacs Disease!

What is Celiacs Disease?

Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disease that occurs in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.

How does Celiacs affect the body? How do you get Celiacs disease?

When people with celiac disease eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley), their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.

Celiac disease is hereditary, meaning that it runs in families. People with a first-degree relative with celiac disease (parent, child, sibling) have a 1 in 10 risk of developing celiac disease.

Celiac disease can develop at any age after people start eating foods or medicines that contain gluten. Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to additional serious health problems.

What are the long term effects of Celiacs?

People with celiac disease have a 2x greater risk of developing coronary artery disease, and a 4x greater risk of developing small bowel cancers.

The treatment burden of celiac disease is comparable to end-stage renal disease, and the partner burden is comparable to caring for a patient with cancer.

Untreated celiac disease can lead to the development of other autoimmune disorders like Type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS), and many other conditions, including dermatitis herpetiformis (an itchy skin rash), anemia, osteoporosis, infertility and miscarriage, neurological conditions like epilepsy and migraines, short stature, heart disease and intestinal cancers.

How is Celiacs treated?

Currently, the only treatment for celiac disease is lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. People living gluten-free must avoid foods with wheat, rye and barley, such as bread and beer.

Ingesting small amounts of gluten, like crumbs from a cutting board or toaster, can trigger small intestine damage.

Celiac disease is also known as coeliac disease, celiac sprue, non-tropical sprue, and gluten sensitive enteropathy.

What are the symptoms?

Digestive symptoms are more common in infants and children. Here are the most common symptoms found in children:

  • abdominal bloating and pain

  • chronic diarrhea

  • vomiting

  • constipation

  • pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool

  • iron-deficiency anemia

  • weight loss

  • fatigue

  • irritability and behavioral issues

  • dental enamel defects of the permanent teeth

  • delayed growth and puberty

  • short stature

  • failure to thrive

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Adults are less likely to have digestive symptoms, with only one-third experiencing diarrhea. Adults are more likely to have:

  • unexplained iron-deficiency anemia

  • fatigue

  • bone or joint pain

  • arthritis

  • osteoporosis or osteopenia (bone loss)

  • liver and biliary tract disorders (transaminitis, fatty liver, primary sclerosing cholangitis, etc.)

  • depression or anxiety

  • peripheral neuropathy (tingling, numbness or pain in the hands and feet)

  • seizures or migraines

  • missed menstrual periods

  • infertility or recurrent miscarriage

  • canker sores inside the mouth

  • dermatitis herpetiformis (itchy skin rash)

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