Celiac disease (also spelled coeliac
disease) or nontropical sprue is an
immune system disorder where the body mistakenly attack gluten,
a protein found in grains, and cause the small intestine lining
to become inflamed and inefficient in nutrient absorptions.
Where is Gluten Found?
Gluten is a protein found in many types of grains, including:
Symptoms of Celiac Disease
The symptoms of celiac disease are:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Particularly foul-smelling stool
- Excess gas or flatulence
- Weight loss and malnutrition
- Chronic fatigue
Because the small intestine cannot efficiently absorb nutrients,
people suffering from celiac disease may also develop vitamin
deficiency, such as:
- Vitamin A deficiency (skin scales or hyperkeratosis)
- Vitamin D deficiency (muscle spasm, bone pain, numbness and
- Vitamin K deficiency (easily bruised, blood in urine)
- Calcium deficiency (muscle spasm, pain in the bone, numbness
and tingling sensation)
Diagnosis of Celiac Disease
Your doctor will conduct an endoscopic procedure, where a flexible
tube with lights and camera attached called an endoscope
is inserted into the small intestine.
In celiac disease, fingerlike projections called villi
that provide more surface area for nutrient absorption are abnormally
flattened. During this procedure, a tissue sample or biopsy
is taken to detect whether inflammatory cells are present.
Approximately 50% of celiac disease is diagnosed in infants and
Causes of Celiac Disease
The exact cause of celiac disease is not known, however, it is
thought that family history or genetics plays an important role.
For some reason, this disease is very common in Irish people.
It is estimated that 1 in 300 Irish-descent have this condition.
Treatment of Celiac Disease
The treatment is deceptively simple – avoid eating gluten.
This is actually very hard because gluten is present in many prepared
foods, although it may not always be listed in the list of ingredients.
For example, gluten may be found in:
- Peanut butter
- Canned food
- Condiments, such as mustard
- Candy bars
Your doctor may also prescribe corticosteroids
to alleviate the inflammation in the digestive tract.
Once gluten is removed from the diet, the symptoms usually go
away within a few weeks. For most patients, gluten-free diet is
required for life.
In some young children, celiac disease may go into spontaneous
remission with only occasional flare-ups of symptoms. In others,
even after gluten is removed from the diet, celiac disease can
develop into lymphoma and cancer of the