Celiac disease is a debilitating genetic disorder that affects 1 in 133 Americans, according to a July 2, 2010 article on Celiac.com. Many people may be suffering from celiac disease with no idea what is causing their disruptive symptoms.
Niddk.nih.gov reported that in a sample of people with a child, parent or sibling who has celiac disease, the ratio jumps to 1 in 22 people being afflicted with the disorder.
There seems to be a genetic component affecting who may have celiac disease. Celiac.com stated that Europeans, Northern Europeans in particular, as well as Asian, Black and Hispanic people are at higher risk for celiac than other peoples.
Eating wheat, rye and barley can cause classic celiac symptoms such as diarrhea, malnutrition and weight loss as well as weakness, bone pain and abdominal bloating. Oats may also be bad for some celiac sufferers. It is the gluten in these grains that wreaks havoc.
Celiac disease damages the villi within the intestines of people vulnerable to this condition. Villi play an important role in nutrient absorption. But when celiac sufferers eat gluten in wheat, rye, barley and possibly oats, the villi become damaged and their immune systems go into attack mode.
Villi are microscopic hair-like projections that line the small intestine. The small intestine contains millions of villi, which are essential in the absorption of nutrients. Celiac disease shrinks and flattens the villi.
Celiac can cause symptoms that do not seem to be related to the digestive tract. Anxiety, depression and fatigue can be results of this condition. A person with celiac disease may experience numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, as well as muscle cramps and joint pain.
A celiac sufferer may bruise easily, and may be subject to mouth ulcers and nose bleeds. Her skin may itch and her hair may fall out.
Children with celiac disease may be affected by delay in normal growth and puberty may come late. They may have trouble putting on healthy weight. Their tooth enamel may be damaged, and may change in color.
Celiac disease is often linked with autoimmune conditions. This includes lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren syndrome.
Other conditions are Addison's disease, Down syndrome and lactose intolerance. Thyroid disease, type 1 diabetes, as well as intestinal cancer and intestinal lymphoma may be associated with celiac disease.
There is no known cure for celiac disease. Fortunately, avoiding gluten from grains can make a significant difference for the celiac sufferer. Some symptoms may disappear completely, and others may improve.
What is Celiac Disease? Celiac.com. July 2, 2010. Retrieved Nov. 1, 2011.
Celiac disease - sprue. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Reviewed Jan. 20, 2010. Retrieved Nov. 1, 2011.
Celiac disease. Niddk.nih.gov. Retrieved Nov. 1, 2011.
Villi. About.com. Updated April 14, 2009. Retrieved Nov. 1, 2011.
Visit Jody's website and blog at http://www.ncubator.ca and http://ncubator.ca/blogger
Reviewed November 2, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Malu Banuelos