WHAT IS CELIAC DISEASE?
Celiac disease is a severe autoimmune disorder that can arise in genetically incline people where the ingestion of gluten leads to destruction in the small intestine.
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 aggressions lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that bolster nutrient saturation. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.
There’s no cure for celiac disease — but for most people, following a strict gluten-free diet can help manage symptoms and promote intestinal healing.
The signs and symptoms of celiac disease can vary highly and are different in children and adults. The most common signs for adults are diarrhea, fatigue and weight loss. Adults may also sense bloating and gas, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, and vomiting.
Adults with celiac disease have signs and symptoms that are not related to the digestive system, including:
- Anemia, usually resulting from iron deficiency
- Loss of bone density (osteoarthritis) or softening of bone (osteomalacia)
- Itchy, blistery skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)
- Damage to dental enamel
- Mouth ulcers
- Headaches and fatigue
- Nervous system injury, including numbness and tingling in the feet and hands, possible problems with balance, and cognitive impairment
- Joint pain
- Reduced functioning of the spleen (hyposplenism)
- Acid reflux and heartburn
In children under 2 years old, typical signs and symptoms of celiac disease include:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Swollen belly
- Failure to thrive
- Poor appetite
- Muscle wasting
Older children may experience:
- Weight loss
- Short stature
- Delayed puberty
- Neurological symptoms, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, headaches, lack of muscle coordination and seizures.
Consult your doctor if you have diarrhea or digestive displeasure that lasts for more than two weeks. Consult your child’s doctor if your child is pale, irritable or failing to grow or has a potbelly and foul-smelling, bulky stools.
Be sure to consult your doctor before trying a gluten-free diet. If you stop or even reduce the amount of gluten you eat before you’re tested for celiac disease, you may change the test results.
Celiac disease does run in families. If someone in your family has the condition, ask your doctor if you should be tested. Also ask your doctor about testing if you or someone in your family has a risk factor for celiac disease, such as type 1 diabetes.
The best way to manage celiac disease symptoms and prevent future health problems is to follow a strict gluten-free diet, along with improving overall immune function through preventing nutrient deficiencies, reducing stress and getting enough sleep.
The focus of a celiac disease diet should be including more anti-inflammatory, healing diet foods in order to repair the gastrointestinal tract/digestive system and heal any nutrient deficiencies. These include organic animal products, raw dairy products, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and probiotic foods.
Here’s a link that can help you stay healthy on a Gluten-Free Diet