Celiac disease is a common digestive issue in which an individual ends up with an adverse reaction after eating gluten-based products. These foods can trigger various symptoms such as the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Bloating and flatulence
- Weight loss
- Fatigue due to malnutrition
- Children do not grow at the expected rate
It is important to note that the symptoms of celiac disease can range from mild to severe.
Possible causes of celiac disease
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system wrongly attacks the healthy tissue. Remember that this is not intolerance or an allergy. When it comes to celiac disease, the immune system erroneously identifies the substances present in gluten as a threat to the body.
As a result, the surface of the small bowels is damaged, thus disrupting the ability of the body to absorb nutrients from food. The exact cause of this reaction is still uncertain, but the genetic makeup and environment are also contributing factors.
Examples of gluten
Always bear in mind that gluten is a protein present in three forms of cereals such as barley, wheat and rye. Gluten is also present in any food that contains these cereals such as the following:
- Breakfast cereals
- Most types of breads
- Some sauces and readymade meals
Additionally, most beers in the market are made out of barley.
Treatment for celiac disease
At the present, there is no cure for celiac disease but switching to a gluten-free diet can help manage the symptoms as well as prevent long-term complications of the condition. Even if the symptoms are mild, it is still recommended to modify the diet since continuing to consume gluten-based products can result to serious complications.
It is vital to ensure that the gluten-free diet is balanced and healthy. There is an increase in the availability of gluten-free products in the recent years which make it possible to maintain a healthy and varied diet free from gluten.
The screening is only recommended for individuals who are at high risk for developing the condition such as those who have a family history of the disease. It is recommended that first-degree relatives of those who have celiac disease are screened.
What are the possible complications?
The complications of celiac disease usually affect those who continue to consume gluten or were not diagnosed with the condition that can be a common problem in milder cases. The potential long-term complications include the following:
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Vitamin B12 and folate deficiency anemia
The uncommon and serious complications include those affecting pregnancy such as a low birth weight infant and certain types of cancers such as bowel cancer.
What are at risk?
When it comes to celiac disease, it is higher among women than men and can develop at any age but the symptoms are more likely to develop during early childhood (between 8-12 months old) and late adulthood (between 40-60 years old).