Celiac Disease: Autoimmune Gluten Sensitivity
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the entire body. The cause of the celiac disease is not the cereal itself, but one of the protein groups of gluten in wheat, rye, and barley: the gliadin.
In celiac disease (gluten-sensitive enteropathy), gluten ingested by the diet cannot be processed by the body, which therefore interacts with the small intestine’s mucous membrane and the immune system. In response to which the body produces antibodies against its tissues. As a result of the immune process against the small intestinal mucosa, the intestinal villi begin to die, reducing the absorption of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals and resulting in malabsorption and permanent inflammation.
Celiac disease is affecting the entire body
It affects not only the digestive tract but also other organs.
Celiac disease can occur at any age. Only 20% of the total cases likely got the right diagnosis due to the large variations in symptoms. Every hundredth person is affected by the disease. So about 3 million Americans affected, and 70% of them are women.
Gluten sensitivity is hereditary. Genetically predisposed people can get the disease by the consumption of gluten. Celiac disease is not an allergy, but it brings out a similar immune response in the small intestine.
90% of patients had a history of a viral infection. The immune response to the virus plays a role in the development of the celiac disease. Unfortunately, once the immune response is triggered, it remains for a lifetime.
Symptoms in adults
Many people develop the disease with less apparent signs. Symptoms can be varied, not necessarily the gastrointestinal complaints are the most evident symptoms.
However, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, and pain are the leading symptoms.
Many symptoms may indicate the presence of celiac disease. Many of these don’t even suggest a gastrointestinal problem. Autoimmune gluten sensitivity appears more and more frequently without typical symptoms.
Non-digestive symptoms, due to inadequate absorption of vitamins and minerals:
- psychiatric disorders
- chronic fatigue
- bone and joint pain
- mouth ulcers
- hair loss
- nail fracture
- dry skin
- muscle weakness and cramps
- unexplained weight loss
- coagulation disorders
- iron-deficiency anemia
- neurological disorders
- increased susceptibility to infections
- pregnancy becomes more difficult and the chances of miscarriage increase
- menstrual problems
Diseases that are more common in celiac disease:
- Type 1 diabetes mellitus
- Sjörgen’s syndrome
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- osteoporosis, fractures
- thyroid dysfunction
- liver disease
- inflammation of the bile duct
- dermatitis herpetiform
- medical consultation with a specialist
- blood tests
- endoscopic examination
- genetic testing
Don’t switch to a gluten-free diet before tests. Getting on a gluten-free diet without a diagnosis can do more harm than good. Other ailments can produce similar symptoms to celiac disease.
Symptoms in children
After the introduction of gluten-containing foods, symptoms usually appear between 15 and 20 months, but not later than 3-5 years.
A child with celiac disease is anorexic, vomiting, bloated, and underdeveloped. The stool is fatty, which already indicates malabsorption. Over time, vitamin and iron deficiencies occur. Children with celiac disease are agitated, irritable, and tired.
Fortunately, the diagnosis of celiac disease is evident at the onset of the first symptoms in childhood.
There is no cure for celiac disease but can be adequately treated with a lifetime special gluten-free diet. Your body regenerates the small intestine cells and restores absorption with the help of the gluten-free diet. Therefore, deficiency disorders disappear.
All gluten should be eliminated from the diet. A proper diet will not cause nutrient deficiencies in the body.
Beyond gluten, pay close attention to your dietary fiber intake! Consuming high-fiber but gluten-free cereals (such as buckwheat, millet, gluten-free oatmeal), vegetables, and fruits can help you get enough dietary fiber.
With a diet plan laid out with the help of a dietitian, a celiac patient can live a full life.
Trusted source: PubMed Central
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