Celiac Disease

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Celiac disease definition

In people with celiac disease, inflammation occurs in the small intestinal mucosa when it is exposed to gluten in the diet. Celiac disease is thought to be an autoimmune disorder and may have a familial or genetic component. The symptoms usually involve the digestive system causing abdominal discomfort, bloating, nausea, and loose bowel movements. However, there is a wide spectrum of symptoms that may occur. Because the intestine becomes inflamed, it may also lose its ability to absorb nutrients from the diet, leading to other associated illnesses.

Celiac disease is also known by other names including celiac sprue, non-tropical sprue, and gluten enteropathy.

What causes celiac disease?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. In some people who are exposed to gluten in their diet, an enzyme called tissue transglutaminase changes the gluten into a chemical that causes an immune response, leading to inflammation of the lining of the small intestine. The normal villi that make up the lining of the intestine are blunted and destroyed, preventing the normal absorption of nutrients from the diet.

This malabsorption of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients may lead to damage to other organs in the body, such as the liver, bone, and brain' that depend on those nutrients to function normally. In children, the lack of effective nutrition because of malnutrition can lead to abnormal growth and development.

There seems to be a genetic predisposition to developing celiac disease, however not all people with a family history of celiac disease develop the condition. There is another reason, yet unknown, why the autoimmune response occurs.

In addition to family history, celiac disease seems to be more common in people with type 1 diabetes, microscopic colitis, Sjögren's syndrome and autoimmune thyroid disease.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/11/2013

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Celiac Disease - Symptoms Question: What symptoms have you experienced with celiac disease?
Celiac Disease - Diagnosis Question: How was your case of celiac disease diagnosed?
Celiac Disease - Treatment Question: What treatments have been effective for celiac disease?
Celiac Disease - Gluten Free Diet Question: What dietary changes have you made to treat celiac disease, and has a gluten free diet been effective and easy?
Celiac Disease - Other Conditions Question: Other diseases or conditions often accompany celiac disease. Please describe your experience.

Gluten Free Diet

Anyone who has had to follow a gluten-free diet has seen a huge change in the availability of these foods. What was once only found in specialty stores and known by very few people has now become a very popular diet trend. Products and restaurants are proudly displaying their gluten-free status. Many now see this as the latest "diet fad."


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