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Celiac Disease : Symptoms and Causes
May 20, 2019
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disease that occurs in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.
Celiac disease, sometimes called celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine. Over time, this reaction damages your small intestine’s lining and prevents it from absorbing some nutrients (malabsorption). The intestinal damage often causes diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating and anemia, and can lead to serious complications.
There’s no cure for celiac disease — but for most people, following a strict gluten-free diet can help manage symptoms and promote intestinal healing.
– Loose, watery stool is one of the first symptoms that many people experience before being diagnosed with celiac disease.
– Bloating is another common symptom that people with celiac disease experience.
Celiac disease can cause inflammation in the digestive tract, which may result in bloating as well as many other adverse digestive issues
– Excess gas is a common digestive issue experienced by those with untreated celiac disease.
In one small study, gas was one of the most common symptoms caused by gluten consumption in those with celiac disease.
Other, more common causes of gas include constipation, indigestion, swallowing air and conditions like lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
– Decreased energy levels and fatigue are prevalent in those with celiac disease.Other potential causes of fatigue include infection, thyroid problems, depression and anemia.
– A sharp drop in weight and difficulty keeping weight on are often early signs of celiac disease.
This is because your body’s ability to absorb nutrients is impaired, which can potentially lead to malnutrition and weight loss.
– Celiac disease can impair nutrient absorption and may lead to iron-deficiency anemia, a condition caused by a lack of red blood cells in the body (17 Trusted Source).
Symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia include fatigue, weakness, chest pain, headaches and dizziness.
– While celiac disease may cause diarrhea in some people, it may cause constipation in others.
Celiac disease damages the intestinal villi, which are tiny, finger-like projections in the small intestine that are responsible for absorbing nutrients.
As food travels through the digestive tract, the intestinal villi are unable to fully absorb nutrients and may often absorb extra moisture from the stool instead. This leads to hardened stool that is difficult to pass, resulting in constipation.
– Along with the many physical symptoms of celiac disease, psychological symptoms like depression are also prevalent.
– Celiac disease may cause dermatitis herpetiformis, a type of itchy, blistering skin rash that can occur on the elbows, knees or buttocks.
Your genes combined with eating foods with gluten and other factors can contribute to celiac disease, but the precise cause isn’t known. Infant-feeding practices, gastrointestinal infections and gut bacteria might contribute, as well. Sometimes celiac disease becomes active after surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection or severe emotional stress.
When the body’s immune system overreacts to gluten in food, the reaction damages the tiny, hairlike projections (villi) that line the small intestine. Villi absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from the food you eat. If your villi are damaged, you can’t get enough nutrients, no matter how much you eat.
Celiac disease tends to run in families, as it is a genetic disorder. If you have a parent, child, brother, or sister who has celiac disease, you have a 1 in 10 chance of getting it yourself. But having the genes for celiac disease doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get it.
Sometimes, a stressful event such as a viral infection, surgery, or some emotional trauma can trigger it. It could also happen after pregnancy. Of course, you would need to be eating foods with gluten for any harm to happen.
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