What’s the difference between gluten intolerance and celiac disease? Just the name, otherwise we’re talking about the same thing and may use the terms interchangeably. How about gluten sensitivity? This wouldn’t be celiac disease but possibly only an allergy to wheat. Just what is a gluten allergy? This is a more general term and it's preferable to be more specific. There is also a newly identified condition called Non-celiac gluten sensitivity. This is brand new however and minimal is known about it. Our focus is on gluten intolerance, or celiac disease, whichever title you favor. By the way, the word "celiac" simply means "belonging to the cavity of the abdomen." Celiac disease isn’t just a vague gluten allergy as some people might think, it is a difficult medical condition that needs respect and proper attention.
Celiac disease is actually an autoimmune problem where the small intestine is disturbed by gluten and is impeded from properly taking in nutrients. To be more specific, the problem involves the villi in the small intestine. Villi are small hair-like projections which are accountable for absorbing nutrients. In a person with gluten intolerance the villi get damaged due to the body’s immune response to gluten and they are left unable to do their job. Consequently vitamins, minerals, protein and carbohydrates are not effectively processed by the body. Further along the system the small bowl may also undergo damage.
Possible Complications Of Celiac Disease If Unattended And Unmanaged
Malnourishment serious enough to effect crucial body functions and overall health.
Serious bowel damage which can at some point result in serious and possibly even life-threatening bacterial infections.
Occurrence of Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is most common in Caucasian women of European descent. How one gets celiac disease and why it happens is not known but it appears to be inherited. Celiac disease usually runs in families so if one family member has it, those related to that person are more likely to have it as well. It can develop at any time in one’s life, from early years as a child to older adulthood. Once you've it however, you can expect to have it for life. It does not go away.
Other Disorders Associated With Celiac Disease
Those with Celiac disease are more likely to have thyroid disease, Williams Syndrome, Down
Syndrome, Type 1 Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Addison’s disease, lactose intolerance, Sjogren syndrome, intestinal cancer, and lymphoma. This doesn’t mean that if you have celiac disease that you'll necessarily have or acquire any of these conditions it merely means that statistically celiac disease is more generally found in people with these diseases and conditions. The reasons why are not always clear.
Treatment and Prognosis
Unfortunately there is no cure for celiac disease. The disorder can be managed however with a celiac diet and the problems related to it mostly eliminated merely by avoiding gluten in your diet. Once you do your intestinal lining should fully heal and recover, usually in just a matter of a few months.
For more information, including a list of foods that are gluten free, check out www.theglutenfreefoodslist.com.