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A routine follow-up is necessary for those who are affected with Celiac disease. Once the disease is diagnosed, proper treatment should be taken with proper care. Maintaining regular intervals, blood tests should be done along with periodic checkups with your dietician or physician. Additional tests are available to monitor your health condition. They are:
- Blood test to check the iron content to monitor iron metabolism.
- Bone density test to check the strength of bones.
- Basic metabolic test to check the levels of HDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose.
- Blood test to check the levels of autoantibodies like tTGA.
- The HLA-DQ2 and DQ8 genotype tests for the immediate family members of an infected person.
CAUSES OF CELIAC DISEASE?
The cause of Celiac disease is almost unknown. According to medical researchers, people under certain conditions are more prone to Celiac disease. They are:
- People with genetic disorders and autoimmune diseases are more likely to get affected.
- Conditions like thyroid disease, type 1diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, liver disease and microscopic colitis also have the risk.
- Immediately after a serious infection, pregnancy, surgery or physical trauma there are chances for this disease.
- A virus infection will trigger this condition.
- Increased risk is there, if a young baby is exposed to gluten before the gut barrier has developed fully.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GLUTEN FREE DIET AND WHEAT FREE DIET?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, emmer, spelt, triticale and rye. For an infected person, It’s better to avoid these cereals to improve the health condition. But those who want a wheat free diet need to exclude only wheat from their diet and not any other cereals. For Celiac patients, it is possible to remove certain amount of gluten from wheat according to the standards set by the industry. Any foods that meet these requirements are labeled as products of wheat starch. Those labeled as Gluten free will be both gluten free and wheat free and are manufactured with ingredients of other cereals like rice, maize, potato etc.
HOW IS CELIAC DISEASE DIAGNOSED?
Diagnosis of Celiac disease is very difficult because the symptoms are very much similar to those of other diseases. Symptoms like intestinal infections, iron deficiency, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue etc are very common. As a result, a primary diagnosis is very difficult to determine whether the symptoms are pointing to Celiac disease or not. Since the doctors are more aware of the varied symptoms, a reliable blood test or an intestinal biopsy or Dermatitis Herpetiformis is commonly used to diagnose Celiac disease.
Blood test: Blood tests are usually done to measure the level of autoantibodies in your body. Autoantibodies are proteins that attack the body’s own tissues or cells. To diagnose Celiac disease, doctors usually measure the levels of autoantibodies called anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTGA) or immunoglobulin A (IgA). The higher the level of autoantibodies, then the patient is more likely to be affected with Celiac disease. But even if the levels are not in a high position, it is not safe to conclude that the person is free of Celiac disease. One important thing is, before undergoing a blood test, a person should have a normal diet with gluten such as pastas, breads etc. Otherwise, the test results may show negative even if the person is affected.
Biopsy: If the blood test result comes positive, then to confirm the diagnosis, a biopsy of the small intestine is performed. For this, a small tissue is taken from the patient’s small intestine using a thin tube called an endoscope. This tissue is used for further microscopic study to check the signs of Celiac disease.
Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH): This is done in people having itchy and burning skin rashes. These rashes usually appear on the knees, elbows and buttocks. Most probably, people with skin rashes do not have any digestive problems. DH is done through a blood test and skin biopsy. These rashes can be controlled by using antibiotics like Daspone and strictly following a gluten free diet.
Screening: This is usually done to diagnose Celiac disease in those people who do not have any symptoms at all. Since the Celiac disease is hereditary, family members of the affected person may wish to screen. 4% to 12 % of an infected person’s first-degree relatives who may have the chance of getting affected with Celiac disease.
PRECAUTIONS TO BE TAKEN BY THOSE WITH CELIAC DISEASE?
If you are allergic to gluten, it is advisable to consult a doctor to find out the sensitivity you are having to gluten rich food. The precautions you could adopt in your diet are:
- Always buy gluten free food products from a trustworthy source.
- Strictly, use the ingredients that you know are gluten free for making a gluten free diet.
- Actually, oats do not contain gluten. But the majority of oat products are contaminated with wheat or barley. So, it’s better to void oats from your diet.
- Never use unwashed utensils that have already used for cooking gluten content food.
- Avoid using used oil or water that already used for cooking normal food.
- To ensure the safeness it’s better to use aluminum foil on plates.
PREVALENCE OF CELIAC DISEASE?
The condition of gluten intolerance is so commonly found around the world. Studies by the National Institute of Health show that over 2 million people in US are affected by this disease. Same frequency has been confirmed in developing countries like the Middle East, Black, North America and India, where wheat is used in large quantity. Celiac disease due to genetic disorders is found in Americans in the ratio 1:133.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CELIAC DISEASE?
The symptoms of celiac disease may differ from person to person. The severity of the symptoms varies from adult to children and it depends upon the amount of gluten a person consumes. This condition affects your small intestine and also other parts of your body. There are cases where some people experience no symptoms at all. The most common symptom of celiac disease is Diarrhea that affects all irrespective of age. We can categorize the common symptoms of this disease into two sections.
- Digestive problems: Excessive gas, abdominal cramps, weight loss and diarrhea.
- Vitamin and mineral deficiency: Low blood cells that results in anemia, insufficient calcium absorption, joint pain or muscle pain, fracture due to thinning of bone, infertility in women, irregular menstrual periods, bleeding disorders, delayed physical and mental growth in children.
- Other symptoms which cannot be categorized are : Fatigue, ulcers in mouth, itchy skin rashes that appears on neck, chest, scalp, buttocks etc. called dermatitis herpetiformis, Irritability and behavioral changes especially in children
WHAT IS A GLUTEN FREE DIET?
Gluten free diet prevents the intake of the natural protein named gluten from your diet. However, it’s impossible to remove all the gluten content from the cereals like wheat, barley etc. From wheat flour, gluten can be removed to some extent to produce wheat starch, which is used in the gluten free food products. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), if a certain amount of gluten is removed, then the food can be considered as ‘gluten free’. This is similar to those foods labeled as zero calories even if it contains four or less calories. Gluten’s elastic nature, which gives a sticky or chewy consistency to the dough, causes irritation to the small intestine. So it is ideal to remove gluten content from the diet of those allergic to gluten. A gluten free diet is the only treatment medically accepted for those suffering from celiac disease.
WHAT IS CELIAC DISEASE?
Celiac disease is a genetic disorder that affects the small intestine and impairs its function of food absorption due to the presence of a protein called gluten. Gluten is a mixture of two proteins - gliadin and glutenin. It is found in cereal grains like wheat, barley, emmer, spelt, triticale and rye. In cereals, gluten functions as a binding agent that provides the baked goods their typical structure and elastic texture. While having gluten content food, gluten mixes with water, becomes sticky and it causes irritation to the intestine. This irritation results in the release of antibodies that harm the delicate lining of the small intestine and affect its ability to digest and absorb nutrients from food. This disease is also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy. This disease affects people irrespective of age and it is considered as a lifelong condition. If this disorder is left untreated, it may result in malnutrition, small intestine cancer, anemia with deficiencies of vitamins and minerals.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR CELIAC DISEASE?
The effective treatment for celiac disease is a lifelong gluten free diet. Since the tolerance of gluten varies in people, the treatment also differs. Some can consume minute amounts of gluten without any problem, but for others this will result in massive disorders. So it is very essential to consult a physician for expert advice before fixing your diet. Those who are very sensitive to traces of gluten should be very careful with the common foods available in the market. In rare cases, the intestinal problems persist even after a strict gluten free diet is maintained. This condition is called Refractory celiac disease and people with this condition may have serious intestinal damages that cannot be healed. In such conditions intestine won’t be in a position to absorb enough nutrients. So they may be given nutrients directly into the bloodstream through their veins in order to maintain a proper balance.
For a detailed view regarding the gluten free diet, please visit our Gluten Free Diet Info page from the home page.
P.S. Information in this site is not diet advice. The information in this site is not medical advice.
We can not assume any liability for any inaccuracies in this site. There are bound to be inaccuracies: product ingredients change all the time, the information may be out of date, the food manufacturer may believe the product is gluten free when it is not. For this, and may other reasons, you should use any gluten-free food list with caution.