What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease (also called Coeliac disease) is not purely an allergy or food intolerance – it is an auto-immune disease in which the body’s immune system starts to attack its own tissues, triggered by gluten. Gluten is a term for a protein type that is found in cereals, rye, and barley. A gluten-free diet is not synonymous with a wheat-free diet, as certain gluten free foods are not wheat free. Some celiac sufferers are reactive to oats. In this instance, gluten damages the lining of the gut (small bowel) and can impact other parts of the body.
Symptoms of Celiac disease
Each person has different symptoms, ranging from slight to severe. Certain effects of celiac disease are not gut related. Symptoms include: abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, above average wind, diarrhoea, indigestion, constipation, heartburn, fatigue, weight loss in certain cases, vitamin B12, iron or folic acid deficiency, mouth ulcers, headaches, hair loss, skin rashes, depression, osteoporosis, infertility, depression, repeated miscarriages, nerve problems, joint or bone pain, poor muscle co-ordination as well as numbness in feet and hands.
Celiac symptoms can be confused with those of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) as well wheat intolerance. It is worth noting that those who get celiac disease do not need to have experienced weight loss; they can be overweight.
Babies can develop gut symptoms once weaned on gluten cereals. Arm and leg muscles can waste and sufferers can get a bloated stomach. Some children do not succeed in putting weight on. On the other hand, they experience weight loss even though they have grown well before that. Older children can suffer from poor growth, stunted stature, anaemia as well as mouth ulcers.
Should you think you or your child is suffering from celiac disease, it is important to continue eating gluten and get medical advice from your doctor.
Should you, or your child, be medically diagnosed as a celiac disease sufferer then you are able to become a member of Coeliac UK. Should you be a parent/carer of an under-16-year-old celiac disease sufferer, you are able to become a member on their behalf. You are then able access invaluable help as well as information with regard to a gluten free diet.