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What is Coeliac Disease?

Updated on February 12, 2013

What is Celiac Disease

What is Coeliac or Celiac Disease

Coeliac disease, or celiac as it is known in the States is an autoimmune disorder. It is caused by a protein found in wheat, barley and rye which is called Gluten. If gluten is eaten there is an inflammatory reaction which leads to the villi in the intestine shortening and becoming much less able to absorb nutrients which affects the general well being of the sufferer.

Absorption problems

Problems with absorption can include the ability to absorb minerals and vitamins as well as carbohydrates and fats which may be a factor in weight loss or failure in children to grow. It can also lead to anaemia because iron is not absorbed, and osteoporosis if calcium is not absorbed.

If that wasn't enough some coeliacs suffer from dermatitis herpetiformis or itchy skin. It can lead to mal nutrition, recurrent miscarriage and infertility. Coeliac goes hand in hand with a number of autoimmune disorders, type 1 diabetes, thyroditis, cirrohis and colitis.

Researchers are also looking into links between coeliac disease and schizophrenia and autism!

Causes

Coeliac disease appears to be hereditary but the gene breakdown does not necessarily mean that if you have the disease that you will pass it on to your children. I have three children all of whom appear to be celiac free. However my cousin has just told me that her adult son is being investigated as he has shown celiac disease symptons in adults,

Diagnosis

This is often patient led with the doctor recognising the symptoms stated by the patient. One of the signs of sever coeliac disease is pale, loose and greasy stools with accompanied weight loss. If you have it mildly it might just be fatigue and anaemia that you suffer from. Diagnosis is by blood test in the first instance which is followed by a biopsy.

Treatment

There is only one treatment, adopting a celiac disease diet which is essentially a gluten free diet- no medication exists at the moment. If a strict diet is followed the gut heals, and symptoms reduce. However it is not a cure all and the quality of life may well be lower for coeliacs. Some people still have persisting symptoms even after the diet is adopted including, dermatitis, osteoporosis, anxiety, fatigue, dyspepsia and musculoskeletal pain. The diet can be difficult to follow as so many modern processed foods have gluten in them. It is best to check all labels periodically as manufacturers can change the ingredients in your favorite brands without making it clear to the sufferer. It is also a good idea to stay clear of oats and barley and the by products beer and whiskey!

Celiac Disease Diet

The main way to make yourself better is to follow a Celiac Disease Diet which is a Gluten Free Diet. There are many products available to help you live a full life and not to feel left out. Have a look at what Amazon offer online and what your local market or health store has to offer for those products that are not naturally Gluten Free.

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