What is Celiac?

I realise that as my blog gets more and more visitors, not all visitors who come know what Celiac is. The description is there somewhere on the blog, but I figured it should also have its own page, so here goes! :

Originally posted on Gluten Free UAE in July 2012

What is Celiac Disease?

This must be one of the questions I get the most. And the answer is SO long, and not always easy to understand. Celiac Disease is a complex auto immune disease that can show in so many different ways in different people. But just incase you (like I often do) need the short version, here you go (once you are done reading it, hit the F or T at the bottom and share it on Facebook and twitter, more awareness = a better life for Celiacs 🙂

Celiac (Coeliac) disease is an autoimmune disease. When someone with Celiac disease eats gluten, the immune system triggers a reaction and releases antibodies, the antibodies cause damage to the villi in the small intestine. The villi in the small intestine is responsible for soaking up all the nutrients in our food, so once it is damaged a whole range of issues can follow.

Symptoms of celiac disease vary from person to person, some researchers say there are around 200 symptoms associated, others go as far as saying over 300 symptoms! Some people may have only 1-2 symptoms, others will have 10, or many many more.

The more common symptoms are:

Bloating / Cramping
Abdominal discomfort / pain
Diarrhea or constipation (or both)
Fatigue
Energy loss
Anemia
Joint Pain
Muscle wasting
Weight Loss (or sometimes weight gain)
Infertility
Depression
Migraines
Skin Rash
Mouth Sores
Failiure to thrive (in children)
Dental and bone disorders (such as osteoporosis)

There is currently no cure or medical treatment for Celiac (Coeliac) disease. The only treatment is to go on a life long gluten free diet. Once on a gluten free diet, symptoms will clear up and the villi will heal. It is important to watch out for small amounts of hidden gluten in foods, as even minute amounts are enough to cause a reaction, and if the exposure is frequent there will (again) be damage to the villi.

-Linda

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