What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is a digestive and autoimmune disorder that results in damage to the lining of the small intestine when foods with gluten are eaten. However, celiac disease can be 100% treated with the correct diet.
Celiac disease is often misdiagnosed for other conditions which include irritable bowel syndrome, lupus, diabetes, cancer, thyroid disease, physiological problems, cystic fibrosis and many others.
There are number of different reasons why celiac disease is misdiagnosed. Up until a decade ago it was thought that only one in every ten thousand suffered from celiac disease but more recent research puts that figure at one in every 133 people in the United States.
Diagnosis – If there are indications in a routine blood test that celiac disease may be present such as low potassium and protein levels, the doctor may also perform a blood test to measure for higher levels of certain types of antibodies found in people with celiac disease. If your doctor suspects you have celiac disease he may take a biopsy from your small intestine to check for damage to the villi.
Genes – If you have a close relative who suffers from celiac disease, there’s a 40% chance that you too will suffer from this disease. The two key genes for developing celiac disease are HLA DQ4 and HLA DQ8. It’s not necessary to have both of these genes in order to develop celiac disease. It is the combination of genetics, a diet that contains gluten and an environmental trigger.
Without these genes, the chances of celiac disease is very remote.
Damage – When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system forms antibodies to gluten which then attack the intestinal lining. This causes inflammation in the intestines and damages the villi, the hair-like structures on the lining of the small intestine. Nutrients from food are normally absorbed by the villi. If the villi are damaged, the person cannot absorb nutrients, especially fat, calcium, iron, and folate properly and end up malnourished.
Researchers have hypothesized that celiac disease requires a “trigger,” which may be in the form of a health issue or major emotional stress; for example, some women begin to experience celiac symptoms following pregnancy and birth, and other people find their symptoms begin following a seemingly unrelated illness. However, this “trigger” theory remains unproven.
Omitting gluten from your diet usually improves the condition within a few days and eventually ends the symptoms of the disease. In most cases, the villi are healed within six months.