Living With Celiac Disease
With change in lifestyles and urban Indians moving more towards a modern and convenience -oriented lifestyle, Celiac Disease is finding victims among young urban Indians. Recent studies have found an alarming increase in the diagnosis of Celiac Disease in India, which has a large number of wheat -based foods.
Is an auto immune disorder in which the immune system attacks the small intestine when a person eats gluten. Gluten is mostly found in wheat, rye, barley & their by-products. When the immune system attacks the small intestine, small finger-like projections called villi that absorb nutrients lining the small intestine are damaged. They are no longer able to absorb nutrients from food into the body. Celiac disease is also referred to as coeliac disease, gluten sensitive enteropathy, non-tropical sprue and celiac sprue.
Celiac Disease is a hereditary disease. This means that if someone in your immediate family, a parent, child, brother or sister has it, then you have a 1 in 10 chance of being diagnosed too. The calculated risk goes down if any of your grandparents, aunts or uncles were diagnosed.
The disease can develop in a person at any time of his/her life. Though it shows up in the first 3 months of an infant's life, many young adults develop it too.
There are over 300 symptoms that may occur in the digestive system or other parts of the body. Children commonly develop digestive symptoms, when they suffer from Celiac Disease. The symptoms commonly are:
- Abdominal bloating and pain
- Chronic diarrhoea
- Pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
- Weight loss
- Irritability and behavioural issues
- Dental enamel defects of the permanent teeth
- Delayed growth and puberty
- Growth Deficiency
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Less than one-third of adults display digestive symptoms such as diarrhoea. Adults are far more likely to suffer from:
- Bone or joint pain
- Bone loss or osteoporosis
- Depression or anxiety
- Tingling numbness in the hands and feet
- Unexplained iron-deficiency anaemia
- Seizures or migraines
- Unexplained infertility or recurrent miscarriage
- Canker sores inside the mouth
- Dermatitis herpetiformis (itchy skin rash)
To confirm a diagnosis of Celiac Disease, several blood tests are run for CD antibodies, especially a tTG-IgA test. If test results confirm Celiac Disease, your doctor will want to confirm the results with an endoscopic biopsy of your small intestine. A study from 1999 found that the later a diagnosis is made, the greater the chances of developing another autoimmune disorder such as, Autoimmune Hepatitis and Type 1 Diabetes.
Currently, the only treatment for Celiac Disease is to strictly avoid gluten, present in wheat, rye & barley. Rotis, chappatis and almost all Indian flat breads are made of wheat or contain a little wheat in them. Accidently, eating wheat or even the dusting wheat flour on the pan could damage the small intestine.
Malt-based drinks, cakes, processed snacks and restaurant food may gluten or traces. Extra caution should taken while adhering to a gluten-free diet.
Managing Celiac Disease
To supplement a gluten- free diet with vitamin and nutritional supplements talk to your doctor. He/she will decide what to prescribe a family member with celiac disease or you.
Rice, soybean, maize and corn must replace wheat, rye and barley in your gluten-free diet. Gluten is found other products such as lip- balms. Read product ingredients carefully purchasing anything that you will either eat or apply on your skin.