Understanding Celiac Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Celiac disease refers to an autoimmune disorder that negatively impacts the small intestine when people with this condition eat gluten.

Gluten is found in items such as rye, wheat, and barley that are employed in making the dough achieve elasticity character and make the bread have a chewy texture.

Unlike food intolerances or allergies, celiac disease is majorly characterized by the response of an immune system to gluten ingestion.

If people with celiac disease consume foods that contain gluten, the immune system mistakenly will identify gluten as a threat and, hence, launch an immune response.

As a result, the small intestine lining will be damaged, hence causing numerous complications and nutrient malabsorption.

The manifestation of celiac disease will vary from one person to another, as some will experience digestive symptoms while others may experience non-digestive symptoms.

It is key to note that an allergy does not cause celiac disease, and it is different from wheat allergies or non-celiac gluten insensitivity.

Experts have noted that celiac disease has a genetic component, and not all people who come from a family with this condition will develop it.

Managing celiac disease requires dedication to a gluten-free diet.

Therefore, individuals with celiac disease will have to stop intake of gluten-containing foods to prevent further damage to the small intestine and minimize symptoms.

In addition, celiac disease individuals have to consult healthcare experts and dietitians to ensure they adhere to good nutrition and to monitor their health.

What Causes Celiac Disease?

Before we discuss the causes of celiac disease, it is essential to note that not all celiac disease is caused by genetic factors.

Here are some of the most common causing factors of celiac disease:

Genetic Predistortion

Often celiac disease is usually linked with particular human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes.

Therefore, if you have HLA gene variants, such as HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8, you are at a higher likelihood of developing celiac disease.

However, it is essential to note that despite having these genes, there is no surety that you will develop a celiac condition.

Autoimmune Nature

Medical experts have classified celiac disease as an autoimmune disorder since the body’s immune system mistakenly targets tissues of the body.

In this scenario, individuals with human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genotypes known as DQ2 and DQ8 are more susceptible to getting celiac disease.

Gluten Consumption

Apart from genetic predisposition, one may develop celiac disease from consuming gluten-containing foods such as wheat, barley, or rye.

Individuals will experience the triggering of an immune response.

Environmental Factors

Despite genetic conditions being a key factor being the highest contributor to celiac disease, environmental factors like gluten consumption can lead to this disorder.

If individuals with celiac disease consume gluten-containing ingredients, it turns on their immune system.

As a result, antibodies are generated, and they attack the small intestine lining.

What Are the Symptoms of Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease symptoms vary from one person to another.

These are some of the common celiac disease symptoms:

Digestive Symptoms

Among the digestive symptoms include:

  • Chronic Diarrhea
  • Individuals experience frequent, loose, and watery stools.
  • Nausea
  • You may experience nausea and an upset stomach.
  • Constipation
  • Some people have a hard time passing stools.
  • Bloating
  • Individuals with celiac disease will experience abdominal bloating and discomfort.
  • Gas
  • If you have celiac disease, you may experience an increased flatulence.

Non- Digestive Symptoms

Non-digestive symptoms include:

  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis
  • You can develop itchy and blistering skin rashes, particularly on knees, buttocks, and elbows.
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Individuals with celiac disease experience a fast change in mood, including depression and anxiety.
  • Headaches
  • Persistent headaches are among the most common symptoms of celiac disease.
  • Cognitive Impairment
  • People with celiac disorder have a hard time with memory and focus.

Malabsorption Symptoms

Some of the most common malabsorption symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Celiac disorder leads to a general lack of energy and fatigue.
  • Weight loss
  • Unplanned weight loss is experienced due to insufficient absorption of nutrients.
  • Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
  • Individuals who are suffering from celiac disease have nutritional deficiencies, leading to health issues such as anaemia.

How Is Celiac Disease Diagnosed?

Some medical evaluations and tests that are used to identify celiac disease include the following;

Medical Evaluation

If a healthcare expert suspects that you may have celiac disease, depending on the symptoms or medical history, they will carry out a medical evaluation.

In addition, they may inquire about additional information regarding family history, symptoms, or other health details.

Genetic Testing

Healthcare professionals may conduct genetic testing with the aim of identifying particular genetic markers linked with celiac disease.

In this scenario, they will test for human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genotypes DQ2 and DQ8.

However, please remember that genetic testing alone is not sufficient to verify or cancel the presence of celiac disease.

The reason why genetic testing is not enough is because these genetic markers (DQ2 and DQ8) are available in people without this condition.

Blood Tests

Blood tests are mostly the first step when it comes to celiac disease diagnosis.

During blood tests, the aim is to locate particular antibodies like tissue transglutaminase (tTG) and deamidated gliadin peptide (DGP) antibodies.

If an individual has extreme levels of antibodies, it could be an indication of an immune response to gluten.

Intestinal Biopsy

An intestinal biopsy is the most appropriate diagnosis of celiac disease, and a gastroenterologist will extract a small tissue sample from the small intestine.

Once the biopsy sample is extracted, it will be examined under a microscope with the aim of assessing property changes present that are linked with celiac disease.

Among the most common characteristic changes that are associated with celiac disease is villous atrophy.

Gluten-Free Diet Response

In some instances, a health expert will advise one to take a gluten-free diet for a certain period and then later conduct tests to assess if signs have reduced or increased.

The aim is to evaluate if the antibody levels in the blood have decreased or if they remain at the same level.

If a patient responds positively to a gluten-free diet, the healthcare expert will advise them to avoid gluten-containing foods.

What Is the Treatment for Celiac Disease?

The most popular celiac disease treatment is to stick to a gluten-free diet and go for gluten-free food.

Among the grains that are known to be gluten-free include corn, rice, fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed meat.

During the purchase of food items, individuals with celiac disease are required to verify that there are no ingredients that contain gluten.

Healthcare experts advise individuals to consult a dietitian to help them with meal planning and assess their progress.

Is Celiac Disease Genetic?

Generally, celiac disease is a hereditary genetic disorder.

It means that it runs in the family, and people may inherit it from first-degree relatives like a parent or siblings.

There is a close relationship between genetic mutations and celiac disease that leads to abnormal changes in the guidance controlling cell function.

These genetic mutations play a key role in celiac disease development.

However, it is important to clarify that there is no guarantee that you will inherit celiac disease from your family member.

Understanding Celiac Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Scroll to top