Highlights

  • Celiac Disease is a type of autoimmune disease
  • People with disease have to follow a gluten-free diet
  • The absorption of gluten leads to the destruction of the small intestine

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Editorji Exclusive: Everything you need to know about Celiac disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease associated with the destruction of the small intestine as a result of gluten absorption. 

When you asked for "gluten-free" at a restaurant only a few years ago, you got a blank face. Many people nowadays choose a gluten-free diet. You might be wondering why you may need to cut out things like pastries, spaghetti, and bread from your diet. This lifestyle is a choice for some people, but it is a need for those who have Celiac Disease (CD).

In an exclusive interaction with Editorji, Dr Gowri Kulkarni, talked about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of celiac disease.

What is Celiac Disease?

It is an autoimmune illness where the absorption of gluten (a protein present in wheat, rye, and barley) leads to the destruction of the small intestine. When a person dealing with CD, consumes gluten-containing foods, their body responds by launching an attack on the small intestine. The villi, little finger-like structures inside the small intestine that aid in nutrient absorption, are damaged as a result of these attacks.

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Celiac Disease Symptoms

Celiac disease symptoms can range from minor to severe. They can change through time and differ from one individual to another. Some people don't exhibit symptoms at all or only do so later in life. A person with celiac disease may not realize that they have it until they experience vitamin deficiencies or anaemia.

Common symptoms of celiac disease include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, nausea, vomiting, stool problems, persistent diarrhoea, and constipation.

A few symptoms of Celiac Disease that are not digestive are weight loss, fatigue, depression/anxiety, joint pain, mouth sores, dermatitis herpetiformis (a kind of rash), peripheral neuropathy(nerve damage in the extremities) which can cause tingling in the legs and feet.

People with celiac disease may develop nutrient deficits when damage to the gut restricts the absorption of nutrients including B12, D, and K over time. A person may acquire iron deficiency anaemia for the same cause.

Diagnosis

A physician sometimes can diagnose celiac disease by having a look at the patient's and family's health records and ordering tests like blood tests, genetic tests, and biopsies. Medical practitioners test the blood for antibodies that are common in celiac disease patients, such as antigliadin and endomysia antibodies. If all other tests point toward celiac disease, a doctor will perform an intestinal biopsy, which involves taking samples of the intestinal lining with an endoscope. It usually takes several to improve the accuracy of the results.

Celiac Disease Treatment

Celiac disease is treated by removing all gluten from the diet, which includes wheat, rye, and barley. Once recognized, individuals must commit to a gluten-free lifestyle for the rest of their lives and seek advice from a certified nutritionist. Dietary education, in addition to avoiding gluten, is also beneficial in the long term for a healthy life.

Additionally, patients might be advised supplements to compensate for the shortages produced by nutrient malabsorption in the small intestine.

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Patients who have recently been diagnosed with celiac disease can also benefit from support groups. Remember, it’s okay to not be okay. Seek professional help as and when required. Don’t worry and stay safe.

(Inputs by Dr Gowri Kulkarni, Head of Medical Operations, MediBuddy)

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