What is Celiac Disease? – Signs & Symptoms!

Celiac Disease Signs and Symptoms!

Celiac Disease, also known as Gluten Intolerance, is a genetic, auto-immune disorder that damages the lining of the small intestine of people who experience a reaction from eating gluten. It prevents the small intestine from absorbing nutrients in the food ingested that are needed for healthy nutrition.

How Celiac Disease Affects YOU!

When a person with Celiac Disease ingests wheat, barley and/or rye products, the disease damages the villi (shortening and villous flattening) in the lamina propria and crypt regions of the intestines. There is also a possibility that oat products affect those with Celiac Disease but there is no conclusive research at this time. Some people are unaware they have this disease and, if no action is ever taken, it can lead to serious medical problems, including cancer of the intestines.

If someone has Celiac Disease and continues eating a gluten-filled diet, their chances of getting gastrointestinal cancer will increase by a factor of 40 to 100 times that of the rest of the population. Additionally, lymphoma and cancer of the gastrointestinal tract will develop in around fifteen percent of patients that have not been treated for Celiac Disease. So, if you suspect that you have Celiac Disease, you will need to be diagnosed as soon as possible so your doctor can prescribe a plan of action to reverse the disease through diet.

Signs & Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Symptoms include, but are not limited to, constipation, diarrhea, weakness, fatigue, bone pain, lactose intolerance, depression, itchy skin, nausea, abdominal cramps, headaches – including migraines, abdominal bloating, unexplained weight loss, and malnutrition. Because there are so many symptoms associated with Celiac Disease, it is very hard for doctors to diagnose the disease in their patients.

Celiac disease affects 1 in 133 people in the United States alone. Based on these figures, the estimated number of people here in the U.S. with Celiac Disease is close to 2.2 million. The disease mainly affects Caucasians and those whose ancestors came from Europe, especially Northern Europe. However, recent studies show that it can also affect Hispanics, Blacks and Asians as well. It is also more prevalent in women than men. And, your chances of developing Celiac Disease are much greater if a direct family member has the disease.

If they are not already doing so, doctors should make checking for Celiac Disease part of the routine for patient physicals each year. As part of the blood workup that is associated with yearly physicals, tests can be done to screen for endomysium and antigliadin. If there is any question as to whether the patient has Celiac Disease (i.e., family history), then they could also include biopsying areas of the intestine to insure the disease hasn’t caused extensive damage to the intestines.

Is There a Cure for Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease cannot be cured with medication but the damage to the intestines can be reversed by a simple change in diet that eliminates 100% of gluten all together. For children, the damage to your small intestines can be reversed in 3-6 months, up to 2-3 years in adults. You will need to completely eliminate wheat, barley, and rye from your food and drinks or the disease can come back. Sometimes this is a real challenge because gluten can be hidden in foods, especially processed foods.

There are some people that are intolerant to gluten but do not contract Celiac Disease. They can experience many of the same symptoms as those with Celiac Disease and the symptoms can be eliminated by removing gluten from their diet. Benefits from eliminating gluten will include improved digestion, increased energy and even improved attention span.

With awareness of Celiac Disease becoming more mainstream, more and more food companies are doing a better job of labeling their products to show if they are gluten-free. There are even restaurants that are now offerings gluten-free menus for their customers.

Much progress has been made in the last few years but we still have a ways to go. If you think you may have issues with gluten tolerance, things you can do include reducing/eliminating gluten from your diet for a few weeks to see if those symptoms decrease and/or contact your healthcare professional.

If you find that you do have an intolerance to gluten and/or do have Celiac Disease, there are many resources available to help you find alternate, gluten-free sources of food and drink.

Some of those are listed below:

www.celiac.com
www.glutenfree.com
www.glutenfreethings.com

The END!

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