Understanding Celiac Disease

Article by Gen Wright

Poor nutrition is a concern that affects many people, but did you know that as many as 1 in every 133 Americans (or 2 million in the continental United States) suffer from a special kind of nutritional disorder called celiac disease that can lead to a variety of other health problems?

Once thought to be a disease that affected only a rare few is now known to be much more common. And while that does not bode well for those that suffer from its effects, it has led to a greater understanding of celiac disease that is aiding (and will continue to do so) the treatment effort.

What Is Celiac Disease?

For those who have never heard of celiac disease, here is how it works: quite simply, celiac disease is a disorder of the digestive system that inflicts damage to the small intestine and prevents proper absorption of nutrients. People afflicted have a particularly difficult time digesting gluten, which is a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. More specifically, celiac disease damages the villi, or protrusions of the small intestine lining that aid in absorption. As a result, no matter how much an individual eats, he or she will remain malnourished.

What Triggers Celiac Disease?

While celiac disease is a genetic disorder, certain factors can trigger it. You can expect celiac disease to become active, if it runs in the family and is not immediately noticeable, after events such as surgery, infection, stress, pregnancy, or childbirth.

Children and adults can exhibit symptoms of the disease differently. In children, signs such as these could raise the flag:

* Chronic diarrhea* Vomiting* Constipation* Excessive weight loss* Abdominal bloating* Abnormalities in stool, such as fattiness, unusually foul odors, or discoloration

Adults may exhibit some of these signs, though it is far less common. Usually, celiac disease manifests itself in one or more of the following ways:

* Fatigue* Arthritis* Depression or anxiety* Seizures* Sores inside of mouth* Skin rashes* Numbness of the feet and hands* Osteoporosis * Pain in bones or joints* Unexplained iron deficiencies in blood (or anemia)

Keep in mind these symptoms are not automatic indicators you carry the disease. Awareness of family medical history is extremely helpful, and consultation with your doctor is essential. It is important for you to realize that celiac disease does not have to rule your life. There are treatments available, but you must take advantage of them. Oftentimes, a gluten-free diet helps you to live a normal life, free of the long-term effects, such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune thyroid and liver diseases.

But it is just as important for you to realize that celiac disease is a condition, which can lead to more harmful long-term effects. By knowing the limits of your body, and the proper nutritional information for how to deal with celiac disease, you place yourself at less risk. For more information on understanding celiac disease, visit our website, where you will find more details on what is celiac disease: how it affects you, how you can specifically fight back, and what to expect in both short and long terms.

Gluten Free Handbook