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Celiac Disease: Symptoms and Treatment

Celiac Disease: Symptoms and Treatment

Coeliac disease, also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropthy is an auto immune disorder which affects the small intestine. The condition is mostly genetically predisposed in some people. The following article provides information about the various symptoms and treatment options available for this condition.
HealthHearty Staff
The small intestine is a vital part of the gastrointestinal tract, which is responsible for most of the digestion of the food and absorption of vital nutrients from it. The small intestine in contrast to the epithet 'small', actually longer than the large intestine. The organ is divided into three parts; duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. Most of the chemical digestion of ingested food takes place in the small intestine. The digestive enzymes that act on the ingested food within this region are produced within the pancreas. They are then directed towards the small intestine through the connected pancreatic duct, in response to the cholecystokinin hormone.

The absorbed nutrients then pass into the blood via a process called absorption. The inner wall of the small intestine, also called the mucosa, is lined with epithelial tissue in folds called plicae circulares. These folds have microscopic finger-like projections called villi. Villi help to increase the surface area available for the absorption of nutrients within the organ, that otherwise has a small diameter. The villi comprises a network of capillaries and lymphatic lacteals that help to transport nutrients to the capillaries. Then, the absorbed substances are transported to different body organs via the blood vessels. There they are used by the body. This assimilation is contrary to the excretion of undigested and unabsorbed food.

What Is Celiac Disease

An auto immune disease is a condition in which the body is unable to distinguish between the healthy cells of the body and harmful substances in the body. As a result of this the body starts producing antibodies against its own cells, which damages the body. In case of celiac disease, the same phenomenon happens. When a person affected by this condition eats wheat, rye, or barley, then a substance known as gliadin (a gluten protein), enters the small intestine. The cells present in the small intestine are unable to recognize this substance as a digestible protein, and triggers an action by the tissue enzyme transglutaminase. The action culminates in protein modification and a reaction within the body's immune system. The affected small bowel tissue cause inflammation and in time, flattens the inner lining of the small intestine. This process is clinically referred to as villous atrophy and it severely interferes with vital nutrient absorption. The disease can only be cured, or rather contained, with the help of a gluten-free diet. This condition must not to be mistaken for a wheat allergy.

History of the Condition In Question

Celiac disease is also referred to as non-tropical sprue, endemic sprue, gluten intolerance, gluten enteropathy, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy. The term was coined in the 19th century and is derived from the Greek name for 'abdominal'. The earliest record of the disease was made by Aretaeus of Cappadocia, in the second century. His work was only interpreted and made available for further analysis in 1856, by Francis Adams, at the Sydenham Society. It was noted pediatrician Samuel Gee who gave the world the modern-day description of the condition, in 1887. In 1908, the American physician Christian Archibald Herter, elaborated on the condition that he called 'intestinal infantilism'. The relationship between celiac disease, gluten-intolerance and carbohydrates was established in the 1940s by Willem Dicke.


The symptoms of the condition include:
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Stunted growth in children
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Iron deficiency
  • Abdominal pain and distension
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Constipation
  • Megaloblastic anemia
  • Osteopenia and/or osteoporosis
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis
  • Epilepsy
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis.

The diagnosis of celiac disease is done with the help of endoscopy, serological blood tests, gastroscopy, biopsy, HLA genetic typing, DXA / DEXA scanning, and classic pathology classification. It is only after a thorough confirmation of the condition that the treatment options are adopted. The only treatment option available for this condition is adoption of a gluten-free diet. The person has to follow such a diet for the rest of his life. In case a person consumes gluten containing food, then he may experience stomach pain and diarrhea.

Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.