Understanding Celiac Disease
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Celiac disease is incurable, but you can manage it by adhering it to a gluten-free diet. Watch this video to better understand celiac disease.
Transcript: As many as one in 133 Americans suffers from the digestive disorder known as celiac disease. So what...
As many as one in 133 Americans suffers from the digestive disorder known as celiac disease. So what is celiac disease anyway? Celiac disease is a digestive condition that is activated by eating the protein gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, and barley. Although celiac disease cannot be cured, its effects can be tempered by strict adherence to a gluten-free diet. The cause of celiac disease is not fully understood, but it is known to be genetic. In fact, people with celiac in their immediate family are up to 15 times more likely to have the disease. In addition, celiac disease seems to occur mainly in people of European descent. To understand what happens when a person with celiac consumes gluten, it helps to look at the functioning of the small intestine in the digestive system. In a healthy individual, the small intestine is lined with thin, hair-like protrusions called villi, which work to absorb essential nutrients from food. In a person with celiac disease, the body's immune system mistakenly views gluten as a threat. In response, protective proteins known as antibodies are made to destroy the gluten. Unfortunately, these antibodies also injure the villi in the small intestine, temporarily causing them to flatten, and making it impossible for them to absorb nutrients. Because the body's own immune system causes the damage, celiac disease is considered an autoimmune disorder. However, it is also classified as a condition of malabsorption, because vital nutrients are not taken in by the body when villi are flattened. Although the symptoms of celiac disease vary by individual, malabsorption often leads to rapid weight loss. In addition, sufferers may experience abdominal cramping, severe bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Then again, some patients have no symptoms at all. A separate condition, which manifests differently but also stems from the consumption of the gluten protein, is a skin rash known as dermatitis herpetiformis, or DH. Although people with DH do not usually experience symptoms past the rash on their bodies, eating gluten will still affect them internally as it does people with celiac disease. For this reason, people with DH also need to follow a gluten-free diet. This is because if gluten continues to be consumed, celiac disease and DH can lead to potentially deadly cancers in the small intestine. Celiac disease may also lead to infertility in both genders, and miscarriage or birth defects. In addition, osteoporosis, iron-deficiency anemia, severe malnutrition, and delayed growth in children can all follow from the disease. For this reason, it's vital to follow a diet that is 100 percent free of gluten-protein. In most cases, this will restore the villi to health and ease symptoms. Adjusting to a gluten-free diet is a great challenge. However, new food labeling laws, online support networks, and an increasingly aware medical community can all help you cope. Please talk to your doctor if you have concerns about celiac disease.More »
Last Modified: 2013-05-01 | Tags »
celiac disease, celiac, gluten, gluten free, gluten intolerance, digestive disorders, genetic disorders, malabsorption, dermatitis herpetiformis, autoimmune disorder diet, wheat, rye, barley, abdominal cramping, severe bloating, gas, diarrhea, infertility conditions, digestive health