Celiac disease, also called Celiac Sprue, is an autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive system and can damage the small intestine. The disease is triggered by ingesting gluten, a protein commonly found in barley, rye, and wheat and present in foods such as bread, cake, cookies, and pasta. Experts estimate there are more than 2 million individuals in the United States with celiac disease, most of whom have not received a diagnosis.
We have heard about gluten sensitivity and gluten causing autoimmune diseases where the body’s immune system attacks its own cells and tissues. The issue is that gluten tends to damage the cells of the intestine and gradually causes digestive issues—as seen in a condition called Celiac disease, which has an immune system-mediated cause as well.
Gluten is a protein found in some grains, which gives them the ‘stretchy’ quality. Although there is no cure, individuals with celiac disease can manage symptoms with gluten-free diets. Being aware of presenting symptoms is critical because if left untreated, the disease can lead to permanent and serious complications. Celiac disease is a digestive disorder in which the digestive system reacts adversely to gluten, a protein abundantly found in wheat, barley, and rye. The only effective way to treat Celiac disease is to spot it and start having a gluten-free diet. Gluten can be found in personal care products, such as lip balm, lipstick, toothpaste, and mouthwash, as well as vitamins and prepackaged foods. Medications and supplements also can contain gluten, although this is rare, or exacerbate the symptoms of celiac disease.
Common symptoms of celiac disease are abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, mood changes, nausea, vomiting, and weight loss. Less common symptoms include anemia, blisters, neurological issues, peripheral neuropathy, rash, and reproductive problems. Celiac disease is different from a food allergy or gluten sensitivity, although the symptoms may be similar, as those conditions do not show damage to the small intestine or an immune response. The cause of the celiac disease is unknown, but there are certain documented risk factors, including a greater risk if a family member is affected. The disease is also more common among White and female individuals, and in those who already have an autoimmune disorder.
But that’s easier said than done: Gluten is everywhere. The sheer ubiquity of gluten in the world means that a truly gluten-free diet is nearly impossible to achieve.
What exactly happens in Celiac:
In celiac disease, the digestive system of our body gets disoriented due to the body’s adverse response to the gluten protein. When the gluten-rich food particle is chewed and transported to the stomach, it is broken down into smaller particles. These broken food materials then go to the small intestine. In a normal healthy individual who is not allergic to gluten, the food nutrients will be absorbed by the villi present in the small intestine. But in a celiac diseased individual, the gluten starts damaging the villi. As a result of which the body is unable to get sufficient nutrients. Even if an adult or a child eats a lot, if it has the celiac disease it will not have proper growth. These individuals can also develop anemia.
Celiac Disease in kids:
While the exact reason is not known for this, health experts and child care specialists say that if celiac disease runs in the family, there is a greater chance that the child might get this disease. The common symptoms of celiac disease in kids are:
– Abdominal pain
– Loss of appetite
– Weight loss
– No weight gain
– Stunted growth
– Mouth ulcers
– Delayed puberty
– Iron deficiency or anemia
Symptoms are usually different in infants than in older children. A research study found that symptoms like diarrhea, anorexia, abdominal distension, and abdominal pain are usually seen in younger children. If the diagnosis is delayed, failure to thrive, irritability, and severe malnutrition can be seen. Symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, abdominal distension, weight loss, and constipation may occur in older children depending on the amount of gluten intake.
Celiac Disease is not the same as a food allergy. Celiac disease is a more complicated health condition that needs immediate and constant medical care. Food allergy is different from celiac disease. Many times children outgrow food allergies, but celiac disease remains for a lifetime. In celiac disease, the body’s own immune system attacks its healthy cells.
Among the advances in treatments, Dr. Pradeep Mahajan claimed that stem cell therapy has been shown to help patients with celiac disease achieve better symptom relief and control of relapse. This is because stem cells in our body have the ability to regulate the immune system, by which they set right any disturbances that lead to disease. In addition, stem cells have an anti-inflammatory property; thus, the swelling in the intestinal lining can be reduced. Another advantage is that stem cells stimulate other cells of the body to perform their functions better and provide a pool of healthy cells that helps to regenerate the damaged environment.