Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease of the small intestines. Celiac is a permanent intolerance to Gluten, a protein found in various wheat, rye, barley and oats.
Gluten consumption causes damage to the small intestines, and can result in malnutrition, anemia and nutritional deficiencies as well as increase the risk of other autoimmune disease and intestinal cancer.
Dermatitis Herpetiformis is Celiac disease of the skin. People with DH can have gastrointestinal damage without obvious symptoms.
Celiac disease is an inherited condition. First degree relatives of individuals with Celiac disease are at the highest risk of having unrecognized Celiac disease (5 to 15%).
Celiac disease can appear at any time in the life of a person with a hereditary predisposition to it. Environmental factors such as emotional stress, pregnancy, surgery or an infection can sometimes trigger the onset of symptoms.
Celiac disease can be difficult to diagnose as symptoms are often vague and non specific. Symptoms can vary from person to person.
The only way to diagnose Celiac disease is by having a biopsy of the small intestine.
Associated conditions are Type 1 Diabetes, Autoimmune Hepatitis, Lymphoma, Infertility, Osteoporosis, Down syndrome, Thyroid disease, Turner syndrome, unexplained Liver enzyme elevations, Lactose intolerance.
Recent research shows that Celiac disease affects 1 in 100 to 200 people in the United States with similar prevalence in Canada.
For years this disease was mostly diagnosed in children however, more and more adults over the age of 40 are now being diagnosed.
With the population aging more people will be diagnosed in the next few years.
Symptoms of celiac disease include
- stomach pain
- feeling very tired
- change in mood
- weight loss
- a very itchy skin rash with blisters
- slowed growth