Celiac Disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder in which eating foods containing the protein gluten causes damage to the small intestine. Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye. When people affected by Celiac Disease eat gluten, their body’s immune system mounts a response attacking the small intestine. The attack damages the villi, or small finger-like projections, lining the inside of the small intestine. The purpose of the villi is to maximize surface area, allowing for optimum nutrient absorption. Poor management of Celiac Disease can lead to improper nutrient absorption and in turn further health complications, such as malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility and even cancer.
Celiac Disease is hereditary, people with a first degree relative with Celiac Disease have a 1 in 10 chance of developing the condition. It can be managed by following a strict gluten free diet.
Specialists recommend that those experiencing symptoms of Celiac Disease, first degree relatives of people with Celiac Disease, and any individual with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, Autoimmune Thyroid Disease, Autoimmune Liver Disease, Down’s Syndrome, Turner’s Syndrome, William’s Syndrome and selective immunoglobulin A (IgA)deficiency, should consider getting screened for Celiac Disease.
Some common symptoms include:
♦ abdominal pain or bloating
♦ chronic diarrhea
♦ unexplained weight loss
♦ irritability or behavior issues
♦ delayed growth or puberty
♦ Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
People with Celiac Disease are at risk for long-term complications whether or not they display symptoms. Though some people may test negative on an initial blood test, an intestinal biopsy may test positive for the presence of Celiac Disease.
To find out more about testing and treatment options, please feel free to contact ECLI and consult with one of our physicians.
By Elizabeth Glynn