Celiac disease is a disease caused by intolerance to gluten , a protein in cereals such as wheat , barley and rye.. These cereals are present in many foods of daily life, such as bread, pasta or cookies.
Celiac disease affects the mucosa of the small intestine, where food is absorbed, as intolerance to gluten causes it to become inflamed. This process can evolve to the atrophy of the mucosa, which causes it to lose its function of absorbing and multiple digestive and extradigestive symptoms are generated.
Celiac disease is a hereditary disorder and only those who inherit the gene can develop this disease. Even so, there are factors that trigger this development, such as gastroenteritis, pregnancy or stress.
How to detect celiac disease?
The diagnosis is not easy, since it is possible that the patient does not report any symptoms, although most often he suffers from digestive disorders such as:
- Abdominal swelling
- Bad digestions
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
- Chronic abdominal pain.
- Delay of children's growth, etc.
There are also symptoms unrelated to digestion , such as:
- Anemia due to lack of iron.
- Osteoporosis for not absorbing calcium.
- Canker sores in the mouth.
- Dermatitis herpetiforme.
- Weight loss etc.
Therefore, the important thing for the diagnosis is that the doctor thinks about this possibility before a patient with any of these symptoms.
Serological studies of antibodies and genetics can be done, but the final diagnosis is made with an intestinal biopsy to see if there is mucosal involvement and to what extent. These biopsies are currently done through endoscopy , which allows multiple samples to be taken from several areas of the intestine in a few minutes and without discomfort for the patient.
How to treat?
Gluten intolerance does not disappear , but following a gluten-free diet the intestinal mucosa recovers and the patient is no longer sick. Therefore, the affected person must eliminate cereals containing gluten from their diet. Some research shows that celiacs who do not follow the gluten-free diet live less than those who do.
At the moment, there is no treatment beyond the gluten-free diet, although research is being carried out on a specific medication and there could be novelties in the near future.