What is Celiac Disease?
Advisory by Marcus Heng, Guardian Pharmacist
What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune reaction to gluten (proteins that are found in certain grains) that results in damage to the small intestines.
What are the causes of celiac disease?
While the causes of celiac are unknown, certain genes seem to be predisposed to its development. About 1 in 100 people may be affected by this disease.
What are the symptoms of celiac disease?
Celiac causes the intestinal villi (part of the small intestines that is responsible for the absorption of nutrients from food) to erode, resulting in malabsorption of essential nutrients in food. This may result in symptoms including digestive issues such as abdominal bloating or diarrhoea, and more chronic malnutrition issues like weight loss, rashes, anaemia, or stunted growth.
How is celiac disease diagnosed?
Diagnosing celiac disease may involve blood tests, a gluten challenge or intestinal biopsies. Given the varied symptoms, it is not unusual to miss a diagnosis for years; however, the earlier the diagnosis, the less likely other health complications will arise.
How should celiac disease be managed?
Celiac disease cannot be cured, but the damage can be mitigated by the strict avoidance of gluten-containing products like rye, wheat, and barley. Some medications and vitamins may contain gluten and should be checked before consumption. Complete avoidance of gluten will allow the intestinal villi to recover, restoring its ability to absorb adequate nutrients from your diet.