Sunday, April 28, 2013

What is Celiac Disease?

A lot of you may not even know what Celiac Disease is... so let me begin with explaining that.

The simple definition of Celiac disease is: 'A disease in which chronic failure to digest food is triggered by hypersensitivity of the small intestine to gluten."

Although lets go into more depth. I think describes it best.

"Celiac disease, also known as gluten intolerance, is a genetic disorder that affects at least 1 in 133  Americans. Symptoms of celiac disease can range from the classic features, such as diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition, to latent  symptoms such as isolated nutrient deficiencies but no gastrointestinal symptoms. The disease mostly affects people of European (especially Northern European) descent, but recent studies show that it also affects Hispanic, Black and Asian populations as well. Those affected suffer damage to the villi (shortening and villous flattening) in the lamina propria and crypt regions of their intestines when they eat specific food-grain antigens (toxic amino acid sequences) that are found in wheat, rye, and barley. Oats  have traditionally been considered to be toxic to celiacs, but recent scientific studies have shown otherwise. This research is ongoing, however, and it may be too early to draw solid conclusions."

Everyone is diagnosed at different ages in their life because it has to go through the DNA before signs will appear. For instance in my family, My grandmother was diagnosed at the age of 60 , my mother was 48 years old, My brother was 24, My sister was 14, I was 10, and my niece was 2. The age range is very wide there in my own family. Both Men and Women can be diagnosed with it. Although in my personal family more females have been diagnosed than males, at least that we know of. We only have history that goes back to my grandmother's generation that we know of, even though we think it does go back further than that. 

The earliest that they will test anyone with celiac is at the age of 2. In very rare occasions will they do younger than that. I have only ever met one person who had been tested at the age of 18 months and it was only because she was so malnourished that she was on her death bed. Yes, Celiac Disease is life threatening IF you do NOT go on a Gluten Free diet. 

There are multiple ways to be tested. My family and I were tested by a blood test, which is about 90% accurate. Another way is by a biopsy which is more accurate than a blood test. 

Everyone has different symptoms caused by Celiac. But here are a few that I found

If you believe that you may have Celiac Disease or be gluten intolerant and want to be tested by a doctor that it is VERY important to STAY on your regular diet before being tested. This is because if you do go on a gluten free diet your test results most likely won't come back correct because there wouldn't be any gluten in your body to be reacting to. 

Hope this helps at least one person! Comments and Questions are always welcome!