Have you ever asked yourself, “What is celiac disease?” Do YOU have celiac disease? Hopefully this will clear up exactly what it means to have celiac disease.
What Is Celiac Disease?
More than a gluten-free trend, Celiac Disease is a lifelong autoimmune disorder. It characterized by chronic inflammatory bowel and/or skin reactions because of the presence of gluten in one’s diet. Gluten is a protein present in wheat, barley, and rye.
This disease causes damage to the villi of the small intestine. Villi are the tiny protrusions of the intestine about one millimeter in length. The damage increases by a large scale throughout the overall surface area of the intestines where nutrient absorption occurs.
Celiac Disease Symptoms
Celiac sufferers have villi that the immune system response damages due to the presence of gluten in one’s diet. Only a small percentage of those with celiac disease have villi that are irreversibly damaged due to the years of ongoing destructive response caused by gluten. It us usually only those who have been diagnosed very late in life that have irreversible damage.
Gluten can also cause even more severe symptoms in people suffering from celiac disease such as triggering auto-immune disorders like hypothyroidism and arthritis.
A small percentage of people with celiac disease will have fiercely itchy and blistery rash. This is called Dermatitis Herpetiformis (often mistaken as eczema). It can be alleviated once you remove gluten from your diet.
Celiac Disease Treatment
The treatment for celiac disease is total elimination of gluten in the diet, whether in obvious forms such as bread. It may also include total elimination of gluten consumption in the form of medications, lip balms, lipsticks, and vitamins.
Celiac disease affects more than 2 million people in the United States. Roughly 1 in 133 people have celiac disease, but for those with a first-degree Celiac Disease, the likelihood of having it too increases to 1 in 22.
Importance of Early Diagnosis and Treament
It is very dangerous for a person with celiac disease to consume gluten because on a molecular level, even the tiniest bit of gluten initiates an autoimmune reaction. When someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, the gluten instantly initiates this reaction, causing discomfort and severe damage to the intestines.
The tiny finger-like villi lining the gut changes after exposure to gluten. (For those with dermatitis herpetiformis, the skin reacts, causing great discomfort.) Over time, the villi flatten. Then, the damaged villi decrease the surface area of the gut that can absorb nutrients. As the villi flatten, the nutrient absorbing surface area of the gut loses its performance. The celiac disease sufferer then begins to become malnourished since he can no longer absorb the appropriate amount of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to nourish his body.
Now that you know the facts and figures about the question “What Is Celiac Disease,” it is better to get tested now then find treatment.