Celiac disease is a lifelong, immune-mediated digestive system disease that occurs due to intolerance to vegetable proteins, prolamins, called gluten. Gluten is found in wheat, rye and barley, although oats too can be harmful for some people. Gluten consumption provokes a local immune response in the intestinal epithelium and causes damage of intestinal villi. In consequence, the intestinal villi become permeable to those substances that would not be absorbed into the bloodstream otherwise. That process leads to development of distant inflammation all over the body. Celiac disease is manifested as a variety of symptoms, not just classic gastrointestinal ones (bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, changes in dynamics and coexistence of excrement). It is also called the “Disease of Many Faces“. Celiac disease is associated with a large number of other organ systems diseases (diabetes, autoimmune thyroid disease, adrenal gland insufficiency, sexual hormone disorders (irregular menstrual cycles), infertility, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, lupus, osteopenia and osteoporosis, anemia, thrombocytopenia, microscopic colitis, autoimmune hepatitis, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, migraines, neuropathy, dermatitis herpetiformis – Duhring’s disease, depression, lymphomas, Down syndrome, autism).
Several years ago, celiac disease was associated exclusively with children, but today we know that the first symptoms of celiac disease can occur at any age.
Diagnosis of celiac disease is given according to laboratory blood tests (the detection of particular antibodies in blood), small intestine biopsy, which also represents the standard test for celiac disease detection. Recently, it has also become possible to perform a genetic test to identify the presence of the so-called “celiac disease gene.”
The treatment for celiac disease is a lifelong commitment to a gluten-free diet and lifestyle. It is necessary to use only the products certified as “gluten free” that are marked with the international symbol for celiac disease, the crossed grain symbol. It is also very important to be careful with food that normally does not contain gluten due to possibility of contamination with gluten during the production process (conveyor belt in a factory, the manner of storage …) as well as by using cosmetics (especially lipstick, toothpaste…) which can have gluten as an ingredient.