Also known as sprue or gluten intolerance, celiac disease is known to affect somewhere near 1 in 150 Americans today. It has been linked to genetics and has been found to be more common in people of European and Caucasian descent as well as in women. The condition can develop at any point in a person’s life. Knowing about this disease is important to those who may be at risk.
Understanding Celiac Disease
This condition is caused by the body’s allergic reaction to the proteins in gluten, which is found primarily in wheat, barley, rye, and oats. The disease damages the lining of the small intestines and prevents it from absorbing important nutrients and minerals in food. This leads to malnutrition and can end up causing a number of other health problems such as depression, anxiety, fatigue, and eventually even seizures, infertility, and certain types of cancer. In children, celiac disease can also cause delayed growth and lessened height.
Celiac disease symptoms include common discomforts such as gas, bloating, abdominal pains, and other intestinal related problems. Sometimes nausea and vomiting may occur. In some, unexplained weight drops or a loss of appetite may also accompany the disease.
Prevention of Celiac Disease
A celiac disease diagnosis is best when done early. Many of the problems associated with this disease can be prevented if it is found before long-term damage has occurred. Blood tests can be used to recognize the problem and an upper endoscopy will confirm whether the sufferer indeed has celiac disease.
While it cannot be cured, the symptoms associated with this disease will go away once a gluten free diet is adopted. Symptoms may take up to 3 years to completely vanish, but reduction is often noticeable within a matter of weeks. Adopting the proper celiac disease diet routine is essential to this.
When one is adjusting their diet to cope with the disease, they should be aware of the at-risk celiac disease foods that need to be avoided. It is not as simple as wheat, oats, barley and rye, however. These very common food products can be found in things like medications and toothpaste as well. A sufferer of celiac disease must become knowledgeable in all the various products and foods, which put them at risk. Luckily, lists of these foods can be found on internet medical sites with relative ease.
Avoiding gluten can sometimes lead to malnutrition or increased risk of obesity, so it is also important for one with this disease to understand their new eating habits. Supplements should be used in order to balance out the vitamin and mineral deficiencies associated with avoiding gluten. Consulting a dietician who specializes in celiac disease treatment can be a great help.
If not treated, celiac disease can lead to serious complications, especially in children where growth impairment and tooth damage will affect them all their lives. Sometimes it is possible, if left untreated, for the disease to lead to various forms of cancer. Anyone having symptoms should consult a physician and seek a diagnosis as soon as possible.