Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a disorder of the digestive system caused by an intolerance to gluten and it causes damage to the small intestine and adversely affects the absorption of nutrients. The protein gluten is found in barley, wheat and rye but is also found in things as diverse as dark soy sauce, medicines and envelope and stamp adhesive.

Celiac Disease
Celiac Disease

When a person suffering from celiac disease ingests gluten, the body responds by attacking the villi (small finger-like projections of the intestinal lining that help in absorbing nutrients from the food. This causes malnutrition, even in cases where the patient has an average or above-average food intake.

Since this condition is caused by an attack by the body'd immune system, celiac disease is considered an auto-immune disorder but may be classified as a disease of malabsorption since nutrients are not absorbed. This disorder is also described as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy.

Celiac disease has been found to be, predominantly, a genetic disease and hence runs in families. However, celiac disease has been found to occur due to a viral infection or severe emotional trauma, during pregnancy and after childbirth or surgery.

Some recent studies have identified Candida overgrowth as a factor in development of celiac disease. The researchers have found that there is a specific protein sequence in gluten that triggers the advent of celiac disease. Their research has also found out that the cell wall of the Candida cells have a composition almost the same as gluten sequences which trigger off celiac disease.

These Candida gluten-like proteins help it to attach itself to the wall of the intestine and is acted upon by transglutaminase (the enzyme that acts on the gluten) and attracts the attack from the immune antibodies. It has been noted that Celiac Disease affects different people differently, that is, one may suffer from abdominal cramps and diarrhea while the other person may exhibit tingling numbness in the extremeties and muscle cramps. However, irritability is one of the common symptoms of celiac disease.

Celiac disease patients may exhibit one or more of the following set of symptoms:

  • constipation
  • pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
  • bone or joint pain
  • muscle cramps
  • flatulence
  • recurring abdominal bloating and pain
  • weight loss/weight gain
  • fatigue
  • delayed growth
  • chronic diarrhea
  • osteoporosis or osteopenia
  • behavioral changes
  • tingling numbness in the legs due to damage to nerves
  • unexplained anemia
  • seizures
  • missed menstrual periods
  • infertility, recurrent miscarriage
  • pale sores inside the mouth

The most common, perhaps only, cure for celiac disease is following a gluten-free diet.

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