Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disease that can be genetic. It’s triggered by consuming a product that contains a protein called gluten, which can predominantly be located in wheat, rye, and barley. If a person with celiac disease eats anything gluten-related, the autoimmune system sees it as a threat and will begin attacking immediately, resulting in potential damage to one’s intestines. This damage can further cause fatigue issues, diarrhea, weight loss, nausea, bloating, and anemia. Celiac disease is slightly more common in women than in men. Seeing as there is still no definitive cure, a lot of everyday food products have been altered to contain no gluten for normal consumption even if you have the disease.
Would you like to know more? Read below the article by Dr. Philippe Eigenmann.
CELIAC DISEASE: WHAT IS IT?
Celiac disease (or gluten intolerance) is an immune system reaction to gliadin, a protein found in certain cereals. This disease is observed in about 1 in 500 children in our country.
CELIAC DISEASE: WHAT IS HAPPENING?
The warning signs are weight loss, the appearance of mushy, discolored stools, and frequent as well as, often, a change in mood.
Although the disease is more specifically diagnosed during infancy, adults can also have celiac disease, sometimes associated with a skin disease called dermatitis herpetiformis. It comes in the form of a rash with severe itching.
HOW TO DIAGNOSE CELIAC DISEASE?
The diagnosis is suggested by the presence of blood antibodies against gliadin and must usually be confirmed by a biopsy of the intestinal mucosa taken during an endoscopy. The biopsy then shows a strongly modified intestinal mucosa, prevents correct absorption of the food the child eats, and growth normal.
HOW TO TREAT COELIAQUIA?
There is no specific treatment for the celiac disease this day. The diet excluding cereals containing gliadin is the only treatment. These grains are barley, rye and wheat, and in some cases oats. The diet must be strict. Indeed, in the case of a poorly followed diet, we can observe the reappearance of the disease. In the current state of our knowledge, it seems that the disease persists for a long time term in the majority of patients, the diet should therefore likely be followed for life.
Dr. Philippe Eigenmann
Immunology & Allergology, University Hospital, Geneva