Celiac disease has a few other names such as gluten-sensitive enteropathy and celiac sprue. All these are scary names but the disease is not life-threatening. It is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestines lining.
What are the Causes and Symptoms of Celiac Disease?
While this may not seem like a big thing, it does cause many other health problems that are far worse than Celiac disease.
Gluten is just a protein found in wheat and is actually what causes bread dough to rise. Gluten can be found in most commercial foods these days due to the extensive use of wheat-based oils and additives.
A person who is extremely sensitive or intolerant of gluten is said to have Celiac disease. There is no known cause or cure. Some people are just more sensitive to gluten.
When these people consume gluten, the villi (hair-like structures in the intestinal lining) get damaged and as a result, the small intestines are unable to absorb nutrients from the food consumed. That is why celiac disease suffers can appear malnourished despite eating a lot.
The symptoms vary from person to person. This is what makes gluten intolerance so difficult to diagnose. Diarrhea, constipation, bloating, excessive flatulence, irritability, migraines, rashes, iron deficiency, unexplainable weight loss, inflammation, seizures, PMS and PCOS, etc. are just some of the health problems that affect people suffering from celiac disease.
People with this disease are also more prone to osteoporosis due to the lack of calcium absorption. Women are also more prone to infertility and if they do get pregnant, the chances of a miscarriage are higher than that of a normal woman who is not suffering from celiac disease.
All in all, it is not a pretty picture. The best way to combat the ill-effects of celiac disease will be to avoid gluten completely. You will need to examine your diet and food preparation with fastidious care. This will be very challenging and to a certain extent, time-consuming. Yet, there is really no choice.
A doctor will be the best person to diagnose celiac disease. He or she will conduct a physical exam on you, check your health history and probably do a blood test to measure the level of antibodies in your system.
In some cases, your doctor may do a biopsy on you where an endoscope is inserted into your mouth all the way down to your small intestine to check if there is any damage to the villi. The procedure is done while you’re sedated. Don’t panic yet.
Now that you know that there is no cause and the symptoms vary with the individual, you probably know that you have no control over the cause or symptoms.
So, what do you have control over?
Your diet. That’s what.
You know what is the best part? If you control your diet, you have control over the entire problem. Are you sensitive to gluten? Then make it your goal to avoid gluten like the plague. It is anathema to you.
Educate yourself on gluten and all that you will need to know about it. Make the necessary changes to your diet and lifestyle. Once you make the changes, stick with them. You will need to avoid gluten for the rest of your life. So, you will have to get used to it.
Once you can do this, any problems associated with celiac disease will slowly diminish. In some cases, the damage may take years to rectify. In some cases, they may never be rectified. Whatever the case, if you have celiac disease, you need to go gluten-free and you need to have started yesterday.