Important Things To Know
About Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is an intestinal inflammatory response to gliadin (protein) of gluten with resulting damage to intestinal mucosal, causing atrophy that results in a malabsorption syndrome. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, oats, rye and barley. Celiac disease should be treated as it causes a serious nutritional deficiency with consequences in other organs, besides the small intestine. Celiac disease occurs both in children and adults.
What Are The Symptoms of Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease does not always manifest with classic intestinal symptoms (diarrhea, bloating and steatorrhea or fat loss in the feces). About 40% of people who have celiac disease present the usual symptoms, but another 40% have no indicators and do have extra intestinal signs (anemia, cramps, weakness), 5-10% are latent celiac disease (they have the antibodies into the blood but do not develop symptoms), and another 5-10% are potential celiac disease (genetic predisposition only).
Symptoms that may occur in the presence of celiac disease:
- Anemia (iron or folic acid deficiency)
- Fatigue, weakness and lethargy
- Deficiency of vitamins B12 and A, D, E, & K
- Diarrhea that persists for days or weeks
- Flatulence, bloating, abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Ulcers in mouth
- Weight loss
- Bone pain caused by decreased bone density with increased likelihood of fractures
- Hormonal disorders, infertility, amenorrhea, spontaneous abortions
- Skin dermatitis
Symptoms that occur in children with celiac disease include:
- Dental abnormalities
- Growth delay
- Menarche delay
- Rickets due to vitamin D and calcium deficiency
What Is The Cause of Celiac Disease?
Due to an autoimmune mechanism, which means, an immune response against the body’s own cells within the bowel, the intestinal mucosa is damaged and inflamed. On the surface of the small intestine are the so called “intestinal villi”, which allow the degradation and absorption of nutrients. In celiac disease, these “hairs” are flattened and this is the cause for poor absorption of the essential nutrients, which are lost in the stool.
What Is The Incidence of Celiac Disease?
The incidence of celiac disease is estimated at 1 in 100 people and affects more women than men. Due to increased screenings in adults with relatives who suffer from this disease, it has been documented as the “silent disease”.
How Is Celiac Disease Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of celiac disease is performed through the patient’s symptoms with endoscopy and biopsy to find flattening of intestinal villi. Moreover, the doctor will order some blood tests looking for specific antibodies (anti gliadin and anti endomysium), but they have a specificity and sensitivity of only 50%. Note: you should never start a gluten free diet before diagnostic testing because it can mask the results. The tests for antibody to tTG are now the most common test for screening.
How Is Celiac Disease Treated?
The only treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. This diet helps to normalize the intestinal mucosa and also, malabsorption syndrome disappears. At the time of diagnosis the GP may indicate a consultation with the nutritionist who will conduct a proper diet according to the present symptoms (diarrhea, bloating, anemia, low calcium, etc). In the first instance, fluids and electrolytes should be replaced and, secondly, diet should provide with some specific nutrients that are usually diminished. Gluten-free diets are often high in calories and protein, due to weight loss.
If you are not local to the clinic, Michelle Honda PhD Holistic Doctor can conduct telephone appointments with you very easily. So if you are anywhere in North America, you can now successfully receive high end, specialized help for your Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. If you are local to the clinic in Hamilton, Toronto or Mississauga Ontario – by all means come in for your appointment. If not, telephone appointments are very popular and convenient.