Today is Celiac Disease Awareness Day!
Celiac disease, also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is a digestive and autoimmune disorder that results in damage to the lining of the small intestine when foods with gluten are eaten. Gluten is a form of protein found in some grains. The damage to the intestine makes it hard for the body to absorb nutrients, especially fat, calcium, iron, and folate.
What Causes Celiac Disease?
Normally, the body's immune system is designed to protect it from foreign invaders. When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system forms antibodies to gluten which then attack the intestinal lining. This causes inflammation in the intestines and damages the villi, the hair-like structures on the lining of the small intestine. Nutrients from food are normally absorbed by the villi. If the villi are damaged, the person cannot absorb nutrients properly and ends up malnourished, no matter how much he or she eats.
What Are the Symptoms of Celiac Disease?
Symptoms of celiac disease vary among sufferers and include:
Digestive problems (abdominal bloating, pain, gas, diarrhea, pale stools, and weight loss), a severe skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis Iron deficiency anemia (low blood count), musculoskeletal problems (muscle cramps, joint and bone pain), growth problems and failure to thrive (in children), seizures, tingling sensation in the legs (caused by nerve damage and low calcium), aphthous ulcers (sores in the mouth), and missed menstrual periods.