Gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity and the gluten-free diet have become common terminologies these days. However, it was not a long time ago that these terminologies were rarely known or talked about. Celiac disease is definitely not new, but not in too distant past, most of the people were unaware of this condition. This implies that sufferers endured their pain without any relief while being administered conventional medications most suitable for other gastric disorders. Till date, it has been estimated that more than 90% of celiac disease patients remain undiagnosed or are wrongly diagnosed. The only way to reduce these numbers is by creating public awareness and by educating the masses more about the disease, its symptoms and as an extension, the available treatment options.
When a person with celiac disease (more commonly known as celiac spruce or gluten-sensitive enteropathy) eats gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley), his body exerts an immune action as a response against the ingested protein. The triggered response damages the villi, which are small fingerlike projections that line the small intestines and help absorb nutrients from the digested food. Due to these ‘immune attacks,’ the villi get damaged consequently, disrupting the normal nutrient absorption process. Celiac disease is hereditary, can develop at any stage of life and may lead to severe complications, if left untreated. While there are many potential symptoms of the disease, the four most common ones are:
Headaches, usually migraines are often reported as the first symptoms of celiac disease. People with celiac disease experience headaches and migraines at much higher rates than the normal population. While the exact cause of headaches in celiac disease is not known, some might link headaches with digestive disorders that are associated with celiac disease. Having a gluten-free diet can reduce the frequency of headaches in celiac disease.
Celiac disease is associated with causing a number of digestive symptoms that include bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhoea. Diarrhoea is the most well-known and common symptom of celiac disease affecting about 50-85% of the patients. In celiac disease, digestive symptoms, including diarrhea is not related to bowel function but is due to poor absorption of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
Rashes on the skin are one of the most common symptoms of celiac disease. In celiac disease, rashes mostly occur on the elbows, knees and/or buttocks, and is mostly bilateral in nature (affecting both sides, i.e. both elbows, arms etc) causing intense itching and even blisters.
In celiac disease, due to damaged villi, the absorption of nutrients get altered resulting malnutrition and weight loss. Nutrients like carbs, fats and proteins fail to enter the body thus creating a deficit and unintentional weight shedding.