Celiac disease (gluten-sensitive enteropathy), sometimes called celiac sprue, is an immune reaction to gluten. Gluten is a protein found in rye and wheat.
Cause of Celiac Disease
If a person suffering from celiac disease have gluten in the diet, his body will trigger an immune response against the protein. Over time, this reaction damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents the absorption of some nutrients (insufficient absorption). Intestinal damage often results in diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, swelling, and anemia, and can lead to serious complications.
Celiac disease can also produce a reaction in which the immune system, or the body’s immune system, attacks healthy cells in your body. This reaction can spread out of your intestinal tract to other areas of the body, including:
Signs and Symptoms
The most frequent signs in adults are diarrhea, fatigue, and weight loss. Adults may also have swelling and nausea, gas, constipation, abdominal pain, and vomiting. Other symptoms are as follows:
- Anemia, usually due to iron deficiency
- Loss of bone density (osteoporosis) or softening of the bones (osteomalacia)
- Itchy skin rash and blisters (dermatitis herpetiformis)
- Deterioration of dental enamel
- Canker sores
- Headaches and fatigue
- Injuries to the nervous system, with tingling and numbness in the feet and hands, possible loss of balance and cognitive deterioration
- Joint pain
- Deterioration of spleen function (hyposplenism)
- Acid reflux and heartburn
When to consult with the doctor?
Consult a doctor if you are experiencing digestive discomfort for more than two weeks. Consult with the pediatrician if your child is pale or irritable, has a developmental delay or a prominent abdomen, and feces are stinky and bulky.
Do not forget to consult your doctor before trying a gluten-free diet.
Treatment and Management
Long-term gluten-free diet is the only way to control celiac disease. In addition to wheat, foods that contain gluten are:
- Candela wheat
- Farina flour
- Whole meal
- Spelled wheat
Medications to control intestinal inflammation
If your bowel is severely damaged, your doctor may recommend steroids to control the inflammation. Steroids can relieve the intense signs and symptoms of the celiac disease while the gut heals.