What is Celiac Disease? Know its Symptoms, Causes and Home remedies
Celiac disease is also sometimes called celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy. It is a chronic digestive tract disorder. This disease is a reaction given by the immune system when gluten is consumed. Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Celiac disease is believed to be an autoimmune disorder. It can also be familial or genetic. People with celiac disease usually have digestive problems like abdominal discomfort, abdominal swelling or bloating, nausea and diarrhea etc.
In this disease, the person has diarrhea, abdominal pain, sadness and irritability. Irritability in children is the most common symptom of this disease. However, there are some people who do not feel any symptoms. In diagnosing this disease, doctors take the help of blood tests or take a sample of the tissue of the patient's small intestine and test it.
Symptoms of Celiac disease
The symptoms of celiac disease vary greatly. These relapse from time to time. Its symptoms are few and completely unnoticeable. These are listed below-
Gas, abdominal bloating and flatulence-
These symptoms occur when the small intestine fails to absorb nutrients from food. The patient may feel abdominal pain, but it is usually not severe.
It often results in thin, yellowish, foamy and foul-smelling stools. The stool contains a large amount of fat, which can stick to the toilet seat and does not come off even after flushing several times. In this disease, usually similar symptoms are seen in children and adults. However, intestinal problems such as constipation occur mostly in children.
Adults and children with celiac disease may lose weight unexplained despite a normal appetite. This condition is called failure to thrive.
Fatigue and weakness-
Celiac disease usually results in a loss of energy and strength. Some people get sick after eating gluten. Children are slightly more likely to have this reaction than adults.
If celiac disease is not treated on time, then it can cause many other problems such as difficulty in memorising and attention, more irritability in children, signs of depression in adults etc.
Causes of Celiac disease
Celiac disease occurs when the immune system is unable to tolerate gliadin, an alcohol-soluble fraction of a protein called gluten. This protein is found in bread, pasta, cereals and biscuits etc. It is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system mistook healthy cells as dangerous cells and starts producing antibodies against them. Antibodies usually work to fight bacteria and viruses but these antibodies made by the immune system cause inflammation and irritation of the intestinal surface.
The surface of the intestines is usually covered with millions of small tube-like growths which are called Villi. The villi increase the surface area of the intestines and help digest food more effectively. In celiac disease, there is inflammation and irritation of the lining of the intestines and weakening of the villi, reducing their ability to help with digestion. As a result, the intestine fails to digest the nutrients from the food. This is what causes the symptoms of celiac disease.
When does the risk of getting Celiac disease increase?
There are many health related conditions which increase the risk of developing celiac disease. These include-
- Type 1 diabetes.
- Thyroid problems.
- Ulcerative colitis (a digestive condition in which the colon becomes inflamed).
- Neurological disorders (those affecting the brain and nervous system, such as epilepsy)
- Down syndrome and Turner syndrome.
- Family history- Celiac disease usually runs from one family to another. If someone's parents or siblings have this problem, then the possibility of having this problem increases manifold. For those whose family members have had the disease before, the risk of developing celiac disease is 10 percent higher than normal. If anyone has a twin brother or sister or someone has celiac disease, the risk of developing this disease increases by about 75 percent.
Measures to Prevent Celiac disease
It is genetic in nature. Hence it cannot be prevented. The only treatment is to avoid foods containing gluten for life. By taking adequate care about the food, the intestine starts to heal on its own and the symptoms start disappearing but if patients start eating gluten, then the symptoms of celiac disease start to emerge again. The patient should know which food contains gluten and which does not but gluten is hard to detect in every type of food because gluten is found secretly in many foods. Therefore, a person suffering from celiac disease should consult a dietician to follow a healthy diet.
Treatment and Diagnosis of Celiac
The doctor asks whether anyone in the family has had celiac disease before.
The doctor examines the rash on the body and the amount of nutrition. In addition, the abdomen is also examined with a stethoscope.
Dental examinations are also helpful in diagnosing celiac disease in some people because the color of teeth of a person affected by celiac disease changes.
Blood tests are also important in the diagnosis of celiac disease. For this, the blood is sent to the laboratory where antibodies present in the blood are detected. If the antibodies are not detected properly in the blood test, then the doctor asks for other blood tests.
If celiac is not detected after a blood test, then doctors conduct a biopsy. During this test, a small piece of tissue is taken from the small intestine. This helps to diagnose the disease.
The doctor conducts a skin biopsy wherein a small tissue of skin is removed and examined under a microscope.
Recommended Diet for Celiac Disease
- Gluten free and nutritious diet should be taken.
- For calcium-rich foods, include milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, fish, broccoli, collard greens, almonds, calcium-fortified juices, and amaranth.
- Eat legumes, nuts and amaranth (ramdana) etc. for iron rich foods.
- For vitamin B-rich foods, eat milk, orange juice, legumes, nuts, and gluten-free whole grains.
- For foods rich in vitamin D, consume milk and yogurt fortified with vitamin D.
- For a diet rich in fiber, eat vegetables, fruits, legumes, amaranth, millet, buckwheat and jowar etc.
- Patients with celiac disease are more likely to develop vitamin K deficiency. Include spinach, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, peas, legumes, olives, canola, soybeans, oatmeal, and dairy products that are all rich in vitamin-K.
- Gluten-free items include rice, soy, corn, potatoes and legumes.
Avoid these food items-
- Grains that contain gluten such as barley, millet, triticale, various types of wheat, etc.
- Foods made from the above mentioned grains such as pasta, oatmeal, bread, pizza, cookies and cakes should also be avoided.
- Do not consume oats.
- Some celiac patients can tolerate oats in their diet but long-term consumption of oats has not been found to be safe for most patients with celiac disease.
When to go to the doctor?
- If diarrhea or digestive problems persist for two weeks or more, talk to your doctor right away.
- If the patient is a child and experiencing irritability, pale complexion, failure to develop normally, obesity, or foul-smelling and large-sized stools, consult a doctor as soon as possible.
- Consult your doctor before consuming a gluten-free diet.