What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder
that causes your immune system to react negatively to gluten. Gluten is a protein that is found in grains like rye, wheat, and barley. When an individual with Celiac Disease consumes food products that contain gluten, it causes their immune system to destroy the villi, the finger-like components in the small intestine that are responsible for absorbing nutrients. Without villi, the body is unable to absorb vital nutrients such as iron, calcium, and folate, which can lead to malnutrition.Common Symptoms of Celiac Disease
The symptoms of Celiac Disease change from individual to individual and tend to affect adults differently than children. Some of the most common symptoms of Celiac disease in adults include:
- Digestive disorders
- Joint pain
- Severe skin rash
- Tingling in the hands and feet
- Canker sores in the mouth
- Anxiety and depression
In children, Celiac Disease usually presents itself via various digestive issues including:
Common Causes of Celiac Disease
- Stomach pain
- Abdominal gas and bloating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chronic diarrhea
- Light, unpleasant smelling stool
The most obvious cause of Celiac Disease is an overactive immune system. An overactive immune system causes the immune system to attack and damage its own tissues. When the immune system encounters a foreign trigger or gluten in the case of Celiac Disease, it produces antibodies that as opposed to fighting infections, attacks its own tissues. Because autoimmune disorders symptoms are similar to other chronic illness, they are often misdiagnosed.
Genetic factors may also increase your risk of developing Celiac Disease. Doctors suggest that having certain genes can increase your risk of developing the disease. If someone in your family has these genes, you are more likely to have these genes and get Celiac Disease. Gene changes, or gene mutations, may also determine who gets Celiac Disease. Research shows that some gene mutations appear to increase the risk of developing the disease. Individuals with Turner Syndrome, type 1 diabetes
, autoimmune thyroid disease
, and microscopic colitis are also at greater risk of developing Celiac Disease.
Sometimes Celiac Disease occurs following intense emotional stress, pregnancy, childbirth, or surgery. Certain viruses may also increase your risk of developing Celiac Disease. Some viruses, such as rotavirus, cause the immune system to overreact. When repeated or prolonged, this overreaction may cause an individual's gluten tolerance to decrease. Gastrointestinal infections may also increase your risk of developing Celiac Disease. Prolonged non-steroidal use, such as ibuprofen, has also been shown to increase the risk of developing Celiac Disease.