It's estimated that 1 in 100,Americans has celiac disease, though most do not know it.
They suffer from diverse symptoms, ranging from diarrhea to depression. Although there is no known cure for celiac disease, it can be effectively treated.
What is celiac disease?
It's an autoimmune disorder with a strong genetic component that is triggered by gluten,a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.
Who gets celiac disease?
We know that it only occurs in people with certain genes, but those genes occur in about 40 percent of the U S population. Just having those genes does not mean a person will get celiac disease. On the other hand, if they do not have those genes, they will not get celiac disease.
What are the symptoms?
Celiac disease results in destruction of tiny, fingerlike projections called villi that line the interior of the small intestine. Their job is to provide a large surface area, about the size of two regulation tennis courts, over which vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from passing food can be extracted.
When the villi are severely damaged or totally disappear, expected symptoms like diarrhea, gas and bloating, belly pain, weight loss, anemia, vitamin deficiencies and fatigue can occur. However, quite a few people have milder damage.
Some people have mouth ulcers, an itchy skin rash, migraine, premature osteoporosis, unexplained iron deficiency, or even dental enamel defects.
What's the treatment? Is there a cure?
No cure.At least not yet.
Treatment means switching to a gluten-free diet, after which symptoms may decline quickly, often within a few weeks. Fully repairing damage to the gut lining requires more time. Barring a breakthrough, patients need to stay on a gluten-free diet for life.
San Diego Union Tribune
Wednesday 27 October 2010