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Celiac Disease

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By Cathy Richey

Celiac Disease (Celiac Disease (CD) is a chronic (long-term) digestive disease in which patients have inflammation or irritation of the small intestine to the extent it causes difficulty with absorbing nutrients from the diet. Patients with CD often have other family members with the condition (and are therefore susceptible to this disease). Inflammation in the bowel occurs when a patient with CD begins to eat food that contains gluten.

Gluten is the name given to certain types of proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and related grains. Oats are currently considered not to be toxic to persons with CD. But, due to the high possibility of contamination with other gluten containing grains, oats are typically not recommended for people with Celiac Disease.

When food containing the gluten protein arrives in the small bowel, the immune system reacts against the gluten, causing an inflammatory reaction in the wall of the bowel. The small intestine lining is covered by millions of villi, finger-like projections, which act to increase the surface area of the intestine. This increases the absorption of nutrients, and is essential for getting adequate nutrition without massively increasing the amount of food eaten.

The villi are damaged by the inflammation in CD, decreasing the absorption of food. When gluten is removed from the diet, inflammation is reduced and the intestine begins to heal. The time when a patient develops symptoms varies from patient to patient after their first contact with the gluten protein. In many cases is may be decades before symptoms and signs develop, often precipitated by a trigger of some sort (e.g., an illness or stress).

About 1 out of every 100 people may have CD, but only 1 out of 10 people with CD may be actually diagnosed and are aware that they have Celiac Disease. Some of these patients have mild forms of the disease and may have only mild symptoms or even no symptoms at all. There may be as many as 2-3 million people in the United States and 20 million in the world with Celica Disease.

Celiac Disease affects many ethnicities, with the highest prevalence in "Caucasians" (one of the races now often called "whites" though Caucasians aren't white and most "whites" do not trace their lineage to the Caucus region).

Infants and children may have Celiac Disease, but CD is more commonly diagnosed in adulthood. And people can be diagnosed even in their seventies or eighties. Females are more likely to be diagnosed with Celiac Disease than males are. People who have type 1 diabetes, thyroid disorders, or relatives with CD are at greater risk for developing CD.

The symptoms or signs of Celiac Disease vary. Some people have mild inflammation with few symptoms. Even though they may feel fine, there is still damage occurring to the lining of the bowel. Other people have more severe inflammation, which causes symptoms that may be severe enough to lead them to visit their doctor. Occasionally individuals will not have any symptoms at all even though their small intestine is severely inflamed.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Abdominal, bone, and joint pain.
  • Anemia (low blood count) and low vitamin levels, mostly iron, calcium, and folate.
  • Bloating and gas.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Liver enzyme abnormalities.
  • Neurological deficits (neuropathy).
  • Poor growth or weight loss in children.
  • Stools that may float or smell very bad.
  • Weight loss with fatigue.

Someone with Celiac Disease may have a variety of the above symptoms and different people with Celiac Disease may have completely different symptoms. Celiac Disease can mimic the symptoms of more common problems and be misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It is now recommended that persons with symptoms be tested for Celiac Disease. In the meantime, eat only foods that do not contain gluten.

Note also most foods containing gluten are also those that have been rendered toxic to humans by Big Agra and/or food processors, through a variety of means. Eliminating these foods from your diet is wise, regardless of whether you have CD or not.

About the author: Cathy and her Doberman Trooper conduct research into all kinds of topics and produce articles like the one you see here. To contact Cathy, write to Get the facts from Cathy, and let the Cathy Factor give you an edge.

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