Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder, wherein some people have problems with foods that contain gluten. Individuals with this condition cannot eat gluten because it will damage their intestine. The damage to the intestine will make it hard for the body to absorb nutrients, most especially calcium, iron, folate and fats.
Gluten is a type of protein found in barley, rye and wheat. It may also be used in products such as vitamin supplements, some medicines and lip balms. It is also know as celiac sprue and gluten intolerance.
Celiac disease is hereditary. Adults and children can have celiac disease.
The body’s immune system keeps you healthy by fighting foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria. When people with celiac disease consume gluten, their body’s immune system reacts by attacking the lining of the small intestine. The body’s immune system’s reaction to gluten cause damages tofingerlike growths called villi, the hair-like structures on the lining of the small intestine. If the villi are damaged, the body cannot get the nutrients it needs.
Symptoms of celiac disease varies and includes:
– Dental enamel damages
– Fatigue and headaches
– Heartburn and acid reflux
– Joint pain
– Loss of bone density, osteoporosis or softening of bone, osteomalacia
– Reduced functioning of the spleen or hyposplenism
– Itchy, blistery skin rash or known as dermatitis herpetiformis
– Delayed puberty
– Short stature
– Dermatitis herpetiformis
– Neurologic symptoms, learning disability, including ADHD, headaches and lack of muscle coordination
– Weight loss
– Chronic diarrhea
– Swollen belly
The only treatment for celiac disease is adherence to a strict gluten-free diet for the rest of your life. Individual on a gluten-free diet, must avoid foods with rye, wheat, and barley, like bread and beer. Ingesting even a small amount of gluten, such as crumbs can trigger small intestine damage.
When you follow a gluten-free diet it means you cannot eat many dietary staples, such as cereals, pasta and any processed foods that contain grains. Also you need to be careful when eating packaged foods that may contain gluten and when eating out, ask about the ingredients of a meal before ordering.