What Is Celiac Disease? – Overview
Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine. It is triggered by the consumption of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. In individuals with celiac disease, consuming gluten leads to damage of the small intestine’s lining, which can interfere with the absorption of nutrients from food.
Diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating and anemia are the most common symptoms of intestinal damage. The only treatment for celiac disease is a strict gluten-free diet. If left untreated, celiac disease can lead to serious complications, such as malnutrition and an increased risk of certain types of cancer.
Symptoms of Celiac Disease
Symptoms of celiac disease can vary widely, but common symptoms include:
Some people with celiac disease have no symptoms at all, and may be unaware that they have the condition.
Celiac Disease in Children
Children with celiac disease are more likely to have symptoms includes:
Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) is a chronic skin condition that is closely associated with celiac disease. It is characterized by itchy, blistering skin eruptions that typically appear on the elbows, knees, buttocks, and scalp. The rash is symmetrical, meaning it affects the same parts of the body on both sides. The blisters are often grouped together, and they can be very itchy and painful. DH is caused by an immune reaction to gluten and protein It is estimated to occur in 15-25% of people with celiac disease. It is treated with a gluten-free diet and medication to control the symptoms, such as dapsone.
Celiac Disease Risk Factors
Celiac disease tends to be more common in people who have:
When Should Someone with Celiac Disease Consult a Doctor?
It is recommended that you consult a doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms that suggest you may have celiac disease. It is also a good idea to see a doctor if you have a family history of celiac disease or if you have been diagnosed with another autoimmune disorder, such as type 1 diabetes or autoimmune thyroid disease. A doctor will be able to perform the necessary tests to diagnose celiac disease, including blood tests and a biopsy of the small intestine.