Celiac disease is a condition induced by the immune system of the body in response to the gluten-wheat protein in our food-intake. The immune response in this case happens in the small intestine of the individual. This happens with the inflammation and damage to the small intestinal linings, which function to absorb the nutrients. It causes complete damage to the villi structure, thereby leading to difficulty in the absorption of the nutrients during the digestion process. This causes malabsorption to the individual.
The damage of the intestinal linings causes weight loss, bloating of the abdomen, and, sometimes, leads to diarrhea. So, vital organs, such as the brain, nervous system, bones, etc. are deprived of essential nutrients.
In children, it affects growth and development. The child may suffer from stomach pain and irritation usually after having food.
Following a gluten-free diet can help in these cases to avoid complicating the situation to an extent.
Symptoms of Celiac Disease:
Here are some common symptoms of celiac disease.
1.Initial symptoms of the condition are the occurrence of diarrhea in one-third of the affected people and weight loss is common in the advanced stage.
2.Some individuals do not experience digestive issues.
3.20% of the affected individuals experience symptoms, such as constipation, and some others show obesity in just 10%.
4.Other symptoms include:
Anemia from the deficiency of iron.
Osteoporosis or osteomalacia
Dermatitis herpetiformis – itching, blistering, skin rashes, or eruption.
Dental decay including the enamels.
Fatigue and, sometimes, headache.
Numbness and tingling in the extremities and also having problems in maintaining the body balance.
Pain in the joints
Spleen functions get badly affected.
Heartburn and acid reflux.
Symptoms of Celiac Disease in Children:
Most of the children with celiac disease are obese that accounts for about 75% of them.
Typical symptoms of celiac disease include chronic diarrhea, swollen belly, pain or irritation in the stomach and abdomen, and, in some kids, weight loss in advanced cases.
Other symptoms include diarrhea, constipation, short stature, puberty getting delayed, neurological symptoms include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, headache, and a constant lack of muscle coordination.
Causes of Celiac Disease:
The exact cause of the disease is unknown.
The body’s immune system badly reacts to the gluten in the food, mainly wheat, particularly by destroying the absorption mechanism in the small intestine, thereby making the surface smooth. This leads to the lack of absorption of the nutrients from the food, thereby resulting in malabsorption. Some gene mutations may increase the risk of developing the disease in the individuals so it may be called an autoimmune condition.
Triggering Factors that may cause Celiac Disease can be
A prolonged emotional stress
Risk Factors of Celiac Disease:
Here are some risk factors that may increase the chances of developing celiac disease.
1. A family history of celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis.
2. Diabetes type 1
3. Turner syndrome
4. Down syndrome.
5. Thyroid condition which is an autoimmune condition
6. Sjogren’s syndrome
7. Lymphocytic colitis.
Complications of Celiac Disease:
Here are some complications which can develop due to celiac disease.
1.Malnutrition due to abnormal absorption of nutrients from the small intestine. This also leads to weight loss and anemia in an affected individual. In children, it causes the retardation of growth both physically and mentally.
2.Bone density will be less along with the loss of calcium, thereby leading to softened bones – osteomalacia or osteoporosis.
3.Lactose intolerance is another complication, although the dairy products don’t contain gluten, that may occur due to celiac disease. The patient may experience intolerance with irritation and pain in the abdomen leading to continued diarrhea.
4.Celiac disease may, sometimes, lead to cancerous conditions, but it’s very rare.
I hope this blog is informative about celiac disease and helpful to you.
-Written by Dr. Vinay Ram., Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah