Signs Of Celiac Can Be Serious
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that is thought to affect millions of people worldwide. Though celiac disease symptoms typically begin to appear in childhood, they can begin to affect people at any age. Celiac has a tendency to run in families, but doctors are still unsure exactly what causes this condition.
Gluten: A Foreign Invader
When a person with celiac eats gluten, the immune system sees it as a foreign invader and goes into overdrive. This does damage to the absorptive surface of the small intestine, which can prevent essential nutrients from entering the body. The fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals pass through the body and are eliminated instead of being absorbed into the bloodstream where they are needed.
Grains With Gluten
The troublemaking gluten proteins that cause this reaction can be found in wheat, barley, and rye. Any food that contains these three grains must be avoided to prevent a negative reaction. Foods such as pasta, bread, baked goods, and breakfast cereal contain gluten, as do some forms of oats.
People with celiac disease must adopt a gluten-free diet. Many foods are naturally gluten-free, such as:
- Plain (no breading) meat and poultry
- Plain fish and seafood
- Dairy products
- Beans, legumes, and nuts
Luckily, there are many gluten-free foods on the market today that can make a gluten-free diet more bearable, such as macaroni and cheese, pasta, cookies, and even bread. Reading labels becomes a way of life, and substituting gluten-free foods for traditional favourites becomes easier.
Celiac Disease Symptoms
Celiac disease symptoms can vary from person to person. Some might have a mild reaction, others more severe. Celiac disease can be difficult to diagnose as there are approximately 300 known symptoms of the condition. The most common symptoms include:
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation
- Weight loss
- Itching skin or a skin rash
- Depression and irritability
- Anemia or unexplained iron-deficiency
- Joint pain
These celiac disease symptoms are troublesome enough, but if left untreated, the symptoms can lead to complications over time, such as:
- Intestinal cancers
- Infertility or miscarriage
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Stunted growth
A doctor can perform blood tests to check for celiac disease, but these tests must be done prior to starting a gluten-free diet to ensure accuracy. If tests come back positive, your doctor will likely begin you on a gluten-free diet. By working with a doctor and a dietician, people with celiac disease can live and eat well while reducing or eliminating celiac disease symptoms.