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Coeliac Disease

Coeliac Disease

What is coeliac disease?

Coeliac Disease (CD) is a permanent intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and probably oats that occurs in genetically predisposed individuals. CD is characterized by an immune-system inflammatory process in the lining of the small intestine that disrupts the absorption of macro and micro-nutrients.

Symptoms

The most frequent symptoms are: weight loss, loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, swollen tummy, loss of muscle mass, stunted growth, mood changes (irritability, apathy, withdrawnness, despondency, etc.), stomach pain, flatulence, persistent iron anemia. Whatever the case, whether in children or adults, symptoms may be atypical or absent altogether, thus making a diagnosis difficult.

Diagnosis

A diagnosis of suspected Coeliac Disease is arrived at by means of a careful clinical examination and a blood test that includes the serological markers for this disease, but a definitive diagnosis can only be attained through an intestinal biopsy. This biopsy consists of extracting a sample of tissue from the upper small intestine in order to check for damage to the villi. In order for this test to be meaningful, it must be done while the patient is still on a gluten-containing diet.

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Treatment

The treatment is a strict life-long gluten-free diet. A coeliac ought to base his or her diet on natural foods like legumes, meat, fish, eggs, fruit, vegetables, and gluten-free grains like corn and rice. Wherever possible, prepared and packaged foodstuffs ought to be avoided because the manufacturing process makes it more difficult to ensure the absence of gluten.

Related Conditions

  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH).
  • Type I Diabetes Mellitus
  • Selective IgA deficiency
  • Down Syndrome.
  • Liver disease
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Lactose intolerance