Celiac disease is an immune system disorder triggered by gluten ingestion of food, in which injuries occur in the small intestine. Gluten is a protein of vegetable origin found in cereals such as wheat, barley or rye. The injuries in the small intestine affect the normal absorption of nutrients, especially fat, calcium, iron and folate (malabsorption). The Celiac disease is also called celiac sprue, gluten sensitive enteropathy, Enteropathy glutamate or nontropical sprue.
Causes: The exact cause of celiac disease is not known but medical research in recent years has identified certain genes that define an increased predisposition to disease. People who have a first-degree relative with celiac sprue (mother, father, brother, sister, daughter or son) have an increased risk of developing the celiac disease. The environmental factors such as viral or bacterial infections can cause different changes in the small intestine in people genetically predisposed. Ingestion of food containing gluten then trigger different immune reactions that cause intestinal lesions characteristic of disease. These lesions of the small intestine, cause disorders of digestion and absorption (maldigestion, malabsorption).
Current genetic studies are focusing on the link between genes, immunity and environmental factors that characterize the disease pathophysiology. Studies made till now have not shown the real age of occurrence of disease, and long-term mechanism of complications.
Symptoms of Celiac disease: Symptoms of celiac disease occur secondary to lesions caused by ingestion of gluten. Symptoms vary from one case to another, from mild symptoms that often go unnoticed, to symptoms that cause severe complications and have a negative impact on daily life. Symptoms of celiac disease, intermittent nature (symptoms that come and go at a certain time) are:
– Abdominal bloating, flatulence, abdominal discomfort – are caused by poor food digestion in the small intestine and colon (large intestine). Sometimes reported epigastria pain (stomach), but often not intense;
– Abnormal stool, usually diarrhea, watery, pale, creamy and smelly. The stool contains a high amount of lipid (fat), and has a glossy, shiny, and is also very sticky. Although celiac disease symptoms are the same regardless of age, they are more frequent and intense in children (early onset of disease);
– Weight loss despite a normal appetite, especially important among children, due to disorders of digestion and absorption is no longer developing normally (malnourished);
– Fatigue and weakness are the result of poor absorption of nutrients in the gut, and absorption of iron deficiency which causes anemia (especially among adults);
– Vomiting, occurring in a period of gluten ingestion is most common among children with celiac disease.
Celiac disease may also lead to:
– Osteoporosis and other bone problems due to poor intestinal absorption of food calcium;
– Female infertility and amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) ;
– Delayed puberty
– Recurrent respiratory infections (common);
– Concentration and memory problems;
– Psychiatric disorders such as depression, irritability in children and adults.
All these symptoms are nonspecific, which may occur in other diseases, Celiac disease diagnosis is often delayed.