Celiac disease is considered as an autoimmune disease involving the small intestines due to intolerance to gluten. Take note that gluten is a protein present in various cereal grains such as rye, wheat and barley. The symptoms of celiac disease include abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss and diminished absorption of nutrients from the intestines. This condition tends to affect Caucasians more.
The usual age in which the condition is diagnosed is infancy (about 1 year of age) and adults in their 30s and 40s. Women are more likely to be affected by the condition than men.
Celiac disease is a genetic disorder that runs in families as well. Remember that since the intestines face a hard time absorbing the essential nutrients, an individual with the condition is also at risk for nutritional deficiencies including anemia, vitamin deficiencies and osteoporosis.
Diagnosing celiac disease
Celiac disease is diagnosed using a blood test along with an intestinal biopsy done via endoscopy. Antibodies to numerous proteins in the body can be spotted in the blood.
Even though the detection of certain antibodies is indicative of celiac disease, an intestinal biopsy is required in order to confirm the diagnosis. The biopsy will reveal loss of the normal structure of the small intestine with the presence of white blood cells in the intestinal lining.
Is celiac disease triggered by an allergic reaction?
It is important to note that celiac disease is not triggered by an allergic reaction, thus allergy testing is not beneficial for coming up with a diagnosis. Remember that there is no allergic antibody concentrated on the gluten proteins among those with celiac disease. Instead, the antibodies involved are the IgA and IgG type and mostly directed against the antigens of the body bound to the gluten proteins.
Treatment of celiac disease
The main form of treatment for celiac disease is avoidance of gluten proteins in the diet. Even though a gluten-free diet is hard and costly to follow, it is now easier to do so. In most cases, cereal grains should be avoided, although corn and rice are free from gluten as well as oats.
When following a gluten-free diet, it results to improvement in the symptoms of celiac disease as well as resolution of the intestinal biopsy abnormalities and even the normalization of the autoantibody levels in the blood. A gluten-free diet can also prevent the development of other diseases linked with celiac disease.
Other diseases linked with celiac disease
Different autoimmune diseases can occur among those with celiac disease, but following a gluten-free diet can reduce the chances for these to occur. It includes autoimmune diseases such as liver disease (primary biliary cirrhosis), thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), myasthenia gravis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes mellitus.
In addition, individuals who are diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are more likely to have celiac disease than those who do not have IBS.