Celiac Disease*: Help, Support and Overcome
Celiac Disease Overview
Celiac disease is a chronic condition where the lining of the small intestine is damaged and results in poor absorption of nutrients and minerals. This is caused due to the allergic reaction to gluten. Gluten is a kind of protein that is present in rye, wheat, oats and barley. Celiac disease can affect both children and grown ups. However, the disease affects every person in a different manner.
The symptoms usually differ from person to person. The disease is genetic. People who are suffering from celiac disease may not be able to eat foods containing the above mentioned grains. The disease is also linked to skin blisters and gluten ataxia. Celiac disease is an idiosyncratic reaction to certain food proteins typified by rapid histamine type reaction similar to urticaria or bronchospasm. The condition is also known as gluten enteropathy, tropical sprue and nontropical sprue. The disease is common in certain European countries such as Italy, Ireland, Austria and Sweden.
Help and Support for Celiac Disease
The cause of the disease is not yet known. When people having gluten intolerance consume foods having gluten, the immunity system responds by damaging the villi present on the intestinal walls that are responsible for absorbing the nutrients. The person may not be able to absorb the minerals and nutrients resulting in malnourishment even if he eats large amounts of food. Celiac disease is hereditary. So people who have some family member suffering from the disease are at more risk of developing the condition.
There are no precise signs and symptoms for the disease. People suffering from the condition may have complaints such as abdominal pain, bloating and intermittent diarrhea. Some people may not have any gastrointestinal symptoms. The symptoms of this disease may mimic symptoms of other conditions such as anemia, parasite infection, Crohn’s disease, gastric ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome.
Due to the malnourishment, the condition can result in weight loss, gas, abdominal cramps, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, general weakness, foul smelling stools, stunted growth and osteoporosis. Gluten intolerance can also cause Dermatitis herpetiformis, a blistering and itchy skin disease that affects the scalp, torso and buttocks.
There are various tests and procedures that help to diagnose the condition. They include blood tests, collecting samples of small intestine, doe testing and using a camera pill for collecting the pictures of the small intestine. Using these, doctor can identify the disease.
Overcome Celiac Disease
Many people try to use gluten free diet to prevent the symptoms of the disease. However, when such people are tested for the condition, they may appear to be normal and mislead the doctor. So, it is recommended to meet the doctor before following the gluten-free diet.
There is no cure for celiac disease. However, you can control the symptoms by modifying your diet. The best way to avoid complications is by avoiding foods that contain bulgur, barley, farina, durum, rye, graham flour, spelt, semolina, wheat, triticale etc. You can also seek the help of a dietitian for finding about the right kinds of foods. After following the diet, the symptoms may subside. In a few months, the villi may grow back. It might also take 2-3 years in some cases.
If there is severe nutrition deficiency, you may have to take mineral and vitamin supplements such as folate, calcium, iron, vitamins K, D and B12. Vitamin injections or pills are usually provided. If there is severe inflammation in the stomach, steroids are provided for controlling the inflammation.
Living with this condition can be extremely difficult. Every day may be a challenge. In order to manage the disease, you need to gather a lot of information about the disease, seek the company and support of other people who have the same condition, and consult a registered dietitian. He will guide you regarding the nutritional aspects of different kinds of foods you can eat.