Celiac disease is complex. When certain foods are digested, the body creates a toxic reaction to them. The food that is in question is gluten, found in most breads and pastas. The toxic reaction created in relation to gluten prevents the body from absorbing certain nutrients needed, can disturb the digestion process, and can damage the lining of the small intestine. Gluten, the trigger for the problems experienced by celiac disease sufferers, can be found in all forms of wheat, rye, barley, and triticale. Gluten can be present in some foods that do not seem likely to have it, meaning that careful monitoring of any and all foods that are ingested, and even some supplements or medications.
When a person who has celiac disease eats a meal, the small intestine lining is affected. Tiny structures in the small intestine meant to help with the nutrient absorption process can be damaged when something containing gluten is consumed. After the damage occurs, the stomach and intestinal tract is less efficient during the digestion process. Repeated exposure to gluten will eventually cause so much damage that the body may begin to experience nutritional deficiencies and other related health problems. Anemia, osteoporosis, stomach and intestinal cancer, nervous disorders, and neurological conditions can all be a result of poor nutrient intake caused by celiac disease. Sometimes more serious complications such as liver damage, lupus, diabetes, or dermatitis can result from having celiac disease for a prolonged time period. There are associated syndromes such as Turner syndrome, Down syndrome, Williams syndrome, fibromyalgia, and alopecia that might be concurrent with celiac disease but the reasons for the associations between celiac disease and some other health problems are not wholly known.
The chances of having celiac disease are less than one percent. If a family member has the illness, the chances of having celiac disease suddenly are manifold. Family members of those who have celiac disease should have themselves tested as the disease can be dormant for years and suddenly surface after having done severe damage. Celiac disease is also called gluten sensitive enteropathy and could be associated with a group of genes on chromosome six. The genes in question seem to have control over how thw body reacts to gluten proteins during the digestion process.
Symptoms of celiac disease may only surface after years of having the condition. Sometimes stress or another illness can trigger the physical symptoms of the disorder. Due to the fact that celiac disease involves many symptoms and multiple systems of the body, it can imitate the symptoms of other illnesses and can go undiagnosed for a length of time. Weight changes, fatty stools, abdominal cramps, diarrhea or constipation, joint pain, dental problems, ulcers, fatigue, and infertility are just some of the symptoms and associated problems of having celiac disease. Skin problems are also characteristic of celiac disease.
Medical testing to diagnose the problem includes blood testing, perhaps a biopsy of part of the stomach or intestine, and genetic testing. Treatment includes eating a gluten free diet and educating oneself about the products that they consume. Gluten can be found even in medications so great caution must be exercised when consuming products. The absence of gluten in the diet will allow for the stomach and intestines to heal from the damage that has been done.