What Is It?

What is Coeliac Disease and, is there a cure?

Coeliac Disease, also known as ‘Celiac Sprue’, is often inherited, but it can also occur in individuals who have,  had severe stress, physical trauma, been pregnant and/or a viral infection in susceptible individuals for reasons that aren't well understood.

Coeliac Disease occurs when a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, malt and oats, generates an immune reaction in the small intestine causing the body to attack itself.

When a sufferer ingests gluten it triggers a reaction in the immune system that causes the lining of the small intestine to become swollen and inflamed. As a result, tiny hair-like projection in the small intestine called the villi shrink and often flatten after continuous exposure to gluten.

When the villi shrinks or flattens, it causes the individual to lose the ability to digest and absorb nutrients from the food consumed. This malabsorption can deprive the brain, nervous system, bones, liver and other organs of nourishment and cause vitamin deficiencies that can lead to other illnesses such as lupus and/or intestinal cancer.

Individual's reactions to gluten vary from mild to severe symptoms that can even lead to death if not treated.

There is no cure for Coeliac Disease,
except to live a strict gluten-free lifestyle!

What are the symptoms of coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease affects people differently. Symptoms may occur in the digestive system, or in other parts of the body. For example, one person might have diarrhoea and abdominal pain, while another person may be irritable or depressed. In fact, irritability is one of the most common symptoms in children.

Symptoms of coeliac or Celiac disease may include one or more of the following:

  • gas
  • recurring abdominal bloating and pain
  • chronic diarrhoea
  • pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
  • weight loss / weight gain
  • fatigue
  • unexplained anaemia (a low count of red blood cells causing fatigue)
  • bone or joint pain
  • osteoporosis, osteopaenia
  • behavioural changes
  • tingling numbness in the legs (from nerve damage)
  • muscle cramps
  • seizures
  • missed menstrual periods (often because of excessive weight loss)
  • infertility, recurrent miscarriage
  • delayed growth
  • failure to thrive in infants
  • pale sores inside the mouth, called aphthous ulcers
  • tooth discoloration or loss of enamel
  • itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis

Long Term Problems Associated with Coeliac Disease

There are two basic types of potential long-term problems associated with coeliac disease. These include:

1) those problems that can happen even if one maintains a gluten-free diet religiously, and
2) those problems that occur as a direct result of continuing to consume gluten.

Certain kinds of non-intestinal disorders are more common in people with coeliac disease. These disorders include diabetes mellitus and possibly other hormonal problems, such as hypothyroidism. The increased chance of developing these non- intestinal problems probably relates to the same hereditary factors that predispose a person to develop coeliac disease. The appearance of these disorders is not prevented by a gluten-free diet.

Certain other disorders, some potentially health-threatening, seem to result from continued consumption of gluten with ongoing intestinal damage. In particular, there is an increased chance for intestinal cancer to develop in persons with coeliac disease. Because intestinal cancer usually develops in older persons, it is not entirely certain that long-term consumption of a gluten-free diet will totally eliminate the chance for these kinds of tumours to develop. However, current indications and common sense suggest that this would be the case.

Visit this page for other illnesses Definitely Associated with Coeliac Disease
it this page for other illnesses Probably Associated with Coeliac Disease

And then read about Cancer


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