What exactly is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disorder in which your body reacts to the protein gluten. Gluten causes your immune system to produce antibodies against it when it enters your digestive system. These antibodies cause damage to your small intestine lining (the mucosa). Damage to your small intestine’s mucosa impairs its ability to absorb nutrients from your food, resulting in nutritional deficiencies.
Gluten is a protein that is found in grains, specifically wheat, barley, and rye. These grains, particularly wheat, are found in many of the staple foods of the typical Western diet, ranging from breads and cereals to pasta and baked goods. Aside from that, gluten is frequently found as an additive in unexpected places, such as sauces, soups, and packaged foods.
What happens during celiac disease?
The small intestine is affected by celiac disease. This is where the majority of the nutrients in your food, including proteins like gluten, are absorbed. Gluten, on the other hand, causes an immune response in celiac disease patients. To destroy the gluten molecules, your immune system sends inflammatory cells and antibodies. These cells cause damage to the mucous membrane that lines your small intestine (mucosa).
The mucosa that lines the small intestine is extensive, but it is folded into numerous fingerlike projections called villi. It would cover a tennis court if stretched out completely. The folds and projections increase the surface area so that as many nutrients as possible are absorbed during digestion. However, immune cells activated by celiac disease erode and flatten these projections, reducing the surface area.
What are the signs of a celiac disease?
Celiac disease symptoms and signs vary greatly between children and adults. Adult digestive signs and symptoms include:
- Weight reduction
- Bloating and bloating
- Pain in the abdomen
- Vomiting and nausea
- Anemia is caused by a lack of iron.
- Loss of bone density (osteoporosis) or bone softening (Osteoma Lacia)
- Rashes on the skin that are itchy and blistery (dermatitis herpetiformis)
- Ulcers of the mouth
- Headaches and exhaustion
- Nervous system damage, including numbness and tingling in the feet and hands, potential balance issues, and cognitive impairment
- Joint discomfort
- Spleen function is impaired (Hyposplenism)
Children with celiac disease are more likely than adults to experience digestive issues, such as:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Diarrhea on a regular basis
- Swollen abdomen
- Stools that are pale and stink.
Risk Factors Linked to celiac disease-
Celiac disease is more prevalent in people who have:
- A relative suffering from celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis
- Diabetes mellitus type 1
- Turner syndrome or Down syndrome
- Thyroid autoimmune disease
- Colitis at the microscopic level (lymphocytic or collagenous colitis)
- Addison’s syndrome
What causes celiac disease?
Celiac disease can be caused by your genes, gluten-containing foods, and other factors, but the exact cause is unknown. Infant-feeding practices, gastrointestinal infections, and gut bacteria may all play a role. Celiac disease can become active following surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection, or severe emotional stress.
When the body’s immune system overreacts to gluten in food, the reaction damages the small intestine’s tiny, hair like projections (villi). Villi digest food and absorb vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. If your villi are damaged, no matter how much you eat, you will not get enough nutrients.
How are celiac diseases identified?
Two blood tests can aid in the diagnosis:
- Serology testing examines your blood for antibodies. Increased levels of specific antibody proteins indicate an immune response to gluten.
- Celiac disease can be ruled out using genetic testing for human leukocyte antigens (HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8).
If these tests reveal celiac disease, your doctor will most likely order one of the following tests:
- Endoscopy. This test involves inserting a long tube containing a tiny camera into your mouth and passing it down your throat (upper endoscopy). The camera allows your doctor to examine your small intestine and collect a small tissue sample (biopsy) to check for villi damage.
- Capsule endoscopy. This test employs a tiny wireless camera to photograph your entire small intestine. The camera is housed within a vitamin-sized capsule that you swallow. The camera takes thousands of pictures as the capsule moves through your digestive tract and sends them to a recorder.
How is celiac disease treated?
The first and most important step in celiac disease treatment is to stop eating gluten. You can’t change how your body reacts to gluten, but you can keep gluten from causing it. As soon as you stop consuming gluten, your small intestine will begin to heal and be able to absorb nutrients once more. To avoid further damage to your small intestine, you must follow a gluten-free diet for the rest of your life.
Additional treatment may involve:
- Supplements to compensate for any serious deficiencies.
- Dapsone is a medication used to treat dermatitis herpetiformis.
- Corticosteroids are used to treat severe inflammation that is not responding quickly enough to diet.
- Follow-up care that includes regular testing to ensure that the disease is under control.