Celiac disease is a digestive condition in which the lining of small intestine is affected by the consumption of food containing gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and other related grains. In this condition, eating bread, pasta, cookies, and pizza crust triggers an immune reaction, which affects the small intestine impairing nutrient absorption through this area. Treating this digestive condition is important, as it may lead to iron deficiency anemia and osteoporosis.
The actual cause for this condition is yet to be found. As nutrient absorption is affected, the person may become malnourished even after eating properly. The symptoms of celiac disease differ depending on the individual, and according to the degree of malabsorption. It may range from no symptoms to very severe symptoms. The common symptoms are classified as those caused by malabsorption and those that are due to deficiencies of vitamins and minerals.
The most common symptoms of celiac disease due to defective absorption of nutrients include:
- Increased flatulance
- Foul smelling gas
- Bloating or abdominal distension
- Presence of fat in the stool
- Abdominal pain
Symptoms arising due to the deficiencies of vitamins and minerals include:
- Loss of weight
- Fluid retention
- Edema in legs, particularly in ankles and feet
- Anemia due to insufficient absorption of vitamin B12
- Excessive bleeding from cuts and wounds
- Weakness of muscles due to nerve damage and low levels of minerals in blood
- Numbness and tingling in legs and hands
This condition can arise in childhood or have a late onset in adults. The symptoms of celiac disease often differ according to the age of onset of the condition. In children, diarrhea, presence of fat in stools, and weight loss are the most common symptoms. Many children remain disease-free after during adolescence till they enter adulthood. Diarrhea, flatulence, and weight loss is seen in adults as well. In some people, diarrhea is not seen but they often complain of abdominal bloating, increased flatulence. In addition they will have symptoms of malnutrition, including excessive bleeding, anemia, or fractures.
A number of other health conditions are also associated with celiac disease:
- Skin rashes on neck, trunk, scalp and extremities
- Mouth ulcers
- Type 1 diabetes
- Thyroid problems
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic lupus