Celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten and it’s a condition that millions of people suffer from worldwide. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye and other types of food. When people with celiac disease eat gluten, this triggers a severe immune response in their small intestine and other health complications. By the time, this reaction ends up damaging their small intestine’s line and prevents the effective absorption of nutrients.
This is why many people end up with malabsorption. The intestinal damage results in diarrhoea, weight loss, anaemia, and can result in severe issues in the future as well. In children, for example, malabsorption can significantly impact growth and development. There is also a strong connection between celiac disease and attention disorders like ADHD.
There is currently no official celiac disease, but for many people, following a strict diet can help in managing celiac symptoms and promotes small intestinal healing. This will enable them to manage their gluten intolerance effectively.
At Siha & Afia International, we offer a variety of gluten-free products and we’ve taken every type and category into consideration whether it’s bread, gluten-free flour, granola, sweets, snacks, healthy bars, rice milk, among other products. You can take a look at the different type of products we offer: gluten-free products
The symptoms of celiac disease and gluten intolerance can vary from one person to another, but common celiac symptoms include diarrhoea, fatigue, swollen belly, and excess weight loss. Adults can experience severe abdominal pain, vomiting, bloating, and nausea.
However, many people with celiac diseases have symptoms that aren’t related to the digestive system whatsoever such as anemia, loss of bone density (osteoporosis) or bone softening (osteomalacia), dermatitis herpetiformis, headaches, chronic fatigue, hypersplenism, joint pain, mouth ulcers, dental enamel damage, and nervous system injury. This is why many people with celiac disease state that they regularly experience tingling in their hands and feet, along with cognitive impairment. This is very important to know because many people think that as long as they don’t have digestive celiac symptoms, then they don’t have celiac disease and gluten intolerance.
Celiac disease and gluten intolerance takes place due to an interaction between genes, consuming foods with gluten, and environmental factors, but the exact cause isn’t known until now.
Research has shown that infant feeding methods, gastrointestinal infections, and harmful gat bacteria can contribute to developing celiac disease. Celiac disease can be triggered as well, so it isn’t only about genes. For example, it can be a cause of surgery, viral infection, several types of trauma, emotional stress, and childbirth.
When the immune system negatively reacts to gluten in food, this reaction will damage tiny, hair-like projections (villi) on the small intestine’s lining. Villi absorb minerals, vitamins, and other vital vitamins from the food and meals you consume on a regular basis. When your villi are damaged, you won’t be able to get nutrients your body and mind need to function correctly, no matter how much you consume food.
Many gene variations appear to increase the risk of developing celiac disease. However, having those gene variations doesn’t necessarily mean you will get celiac disease, which suggests that other factors should be involved as well.
Celiac disease can impact anyone no matter what age or gender they are. However, it was found that is usually more common in individuals who have:
- A family member who has/had celiac disease.
- Dermatitis herpetiformis.
- Type 1 diabetes.
- Down syndrome.
- Turner syndrome.
- Autoimmune thyroid disease.
- Microscopic colitis (lymphocytic or collagenous colitis).
- Addison’s disease.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
Untreated, celiac disease can result in serious health problems if the right regime and treatment are not followed. This is why it is essential to get tested and follow the right diet regime.
These complications include:
- Severe Malnutrition: When your small intestine is damaged, this means that it can’t absorb needed nutrients. This can result in anaemia and excess weight loss. Anaemia on its own has severe complications like tachycardia.
- Loss of Calcium: Due to malabsorption of calcium and other necessary nutrients like vitamin D, this can lead to bone softening (osteomalacia) in children and bone density loss (osteoporosis).
- Infertility / Miscarriage: The issue with celiac disease is that health complications associated with it usually leads to other health problems. For example, the malabsorption of vitamin D can result in reproductive problems, infertility, and miscarriage.
- Lactose Intolerance: Damage to the small intestine can result in severe abdominal pain and diarrhoea, especially after consuming lactose-containing dairy products. This will happen even if the dairy products don’t consist of gluten. Once your intestine has successfully healed, you will be able to tolerate dairy products to a certain extent. However, many people still continuously experience lactose intolerance even if they successfully manage celiac disease. If your celiac symptoms are improving and you want to try dairy products, make sure you try a small amount first and then increase it gradually.
- Cancer: Individuals with celiac disease who don’t follow a gluten-free diet have a high risk of getting several types of cancer, such as intestinal lymphoma and small bowel cancer. Even though this is very rare and there are only a few cases reported, the risk is still there.
- Neurological Problems: Many individuals with celiac disease can develop neurological issues like seizures, neuropathy, epilepsy that affect the hands and feet.
Non-Responsive Celiac Disease
Unfortunately, 30% of people who have celiac disease won’t be able to maintain a successful response to the gluten-free diet. This is called non-responsive celiac disease and is usually due to diet contamination with gluten. This is why it is essential to work with a credible nutrition and only purchase food from reliable sources.
Individuals with the non-responsive celiac disease could have an additional condition as well. Other conditions can be like bacterial overgrowth, IBS, intolerance to disaccharides, low pancreas function, and microscopic colitis.
Refractory celiac disease
In rare cases, the intestinal celiac disease injury persists and results in severe malabsorption, even though you’ve followed a gluten-free diet. This mix is called refractory celiac disease.
If you aren’t improving at all after following the right diet for six months to a year, your doctor will probably recommend additional testing. The doctor may also look for other explanations to why you aren’t improving. Your doctor could recommend steroid treatment with steroids to decrease intestinal inflammation or medication that effectively suppresses the immune system.
Both non-responsive and refractory celiac diseases are sporadic. Based on a study conducted by the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, it was found that 1 in 5 children with celiac had continuous damage happen to the digestive system even though they followed a gluten-free diet for a period of six months to a year.
When you should see a doctor
We can’t emphasize enough on the importance of seeing a doctor and getting tested if you have symptoms, or if someone in your family has it. One of the main reasons why Celiac disease progresses is because people either have no idea about it or just think it is something else and don’t consider it to be an option. You should consult your doctor immediately if you’ve diarrhoea or any digestive comfort that lasts over two weeks. Also, consult your child’s doctor right away if your child has bulky stools or has any of the symptoms mentioned at the beginning of the article.
It is essential that you consult with your doctor before trying out a gluten-free diet. If you stop or even decrease the gluten amount you consume before you’re tested for celiac disease, this will change the results of the test and it won’t be accurate as well.
Celiac disease usually runs in families, even though this isn’t always the case so don’t worry if someone in your family has it! If you know that someone in your family has the condition, ask your doctor if you should be tested, especially if you already have celiac symptoms.
The research estimated that 20% of people who have celiac disease have got a diagnosis or get checked. Unfortunately, many people go for a long time suffering from symptoms and don’t go check because they don’t think they would have something like gluten intolerance.
Doctors will order two blood tests to help diagnose if you have celiac disease or not. More tests might have to be done but these are the main two: –
- Serology testing looks for specific antibodies in the blood. Elevated levels of these antibodies demonstrate an immune reaction to gluten which indicates gluten intolerance and celiac disease.
- Genetic testing tests for human leukocyte antigens (HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8). This test is usually done to rule out celiac disease.
In some severe cases, the doctor might want to conduct an endoscopy to view the small intensive and to take a biopsy to assess damage to the villi. It is essential to be tested for celiac disease before you start a gluten-free diet. Removing gluten from your diet will change the blood test’s result so that they appear normal.
A strict gluten-free diet is the only way to successfully manage celiac disease and gluten intolerance for a long time. Also, foods that consist of gluten include barley, bulgur, durum, farina, graham flour, malt, rye, semolina, spelt, and triticale. We at Siha & Afia International try to avoid any kind of product or ingredient that stimulates gluten intolerance.
Once you begin removing gluten from your diet, small intestine inflammation generally begins to decrease. Usually, in a couple of weeks, you will start seeing results. You will start feeling better in a couple of days, though after beginning the diet as long as you follow it correctly. Completely regrowth and villi healing can take several months or years in some cases. The healing process is usually faster in children and young people.
If you accidentally consume a product that consists of gluten, you will experience abdominal pain and other celiac symptoms. Even though many people don’t experience any signs or symptoms, this doesn’t mean that the process is harmful. Even traced gluten amounts can be damaging, whether or not they result in signs or symptoms.
Hidden gluten can be found in non-food and food products, like: –
- Modified food starch and food stabilizers
- Over-the-counter medications
- Vitamin and mineral supplements
- Herbal and nutritional supplements
- Lipstick products
- Toothpaste and mouthwash
- Envelope and stamp glue
Coping and Support
It could be somewhat stressful to follow a diet that is entirely gluten-free. Here are many ways to assist you to cope and feel more in control. By patience and determinacies, you will be able to live a gluten-free life.
- Get educated. It is essential that you educate everyone around you about your condition, including family and friends. This will enable them to recognize and support your efforts in your journey of dealing with the disease. This is beneficial for you because you’ll get to learn more about your condition. You can keep up with the developments being made in the scientific and medical field.
- Always follow the recommendations of the doctor. If you are diagnosed with celiac disease, it is essential that you maintain a diet that is entirely gluten-free.
- Incorporate lifestyle modifications as well. Just like any other medical condition, it is essential to take care of other physical and mental health aspects as well to maintain and enhance your progress. Great ideas would be adopting an exercise regimen like going walking or running every morning but you can choose whatever is suitable for you. It is recommended to adapt breathing techniques as well, especially for people who suffer from secondary conditions like irritable bowel syndrome to avoid making the symptoms worse.
- Find a support group. It is helpful to know that you aren’t entirely alone. You can find comfort in sharing your experiences when you speak to people who are facing similar challenges. Organizations like the Celiac Disease Foundation and the Celiac Support Association can help put you in touch with other people if you don’t know anyone where you live.
Get in touch for any query
At Siha & Afia International, we understand entirely how stressful or overwhelming having Celiac disease and gluten intolerance can be. This is the main reason why we take our time in choosing the right products and provide the best. We only work with brands and companies we fully trust. All the products are checked before they are officially sold.
If you have any questions about the products we sell, don’t hesitate to get in touch – contact us now.