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  • Salil Shukla

Celiac Disease - Symptoms, Risks and Diagnosis

Celiac disease is a chronic digestive disorder resulting from an immune reaction to gliadin, a gluten protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oats. It involves inflammation and destruction of the inner lining of the small intestine and can lead to the malabsorption of minerals and nutrients.

If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine. Over time, this reaction damages your small intestine's lining and prevents it from absorbing some nutrients (malabsorption). The intestinal damage often causes diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating and anemia, and can lead to serious complications.

In children, malabsorption can affect growth and development, besides causing the symptoms seen in adults.



Celiac disease symptoms in children

Children with celiac disease can feel tired and irritable. They may also be smaller than normal and have delayed puberty. Other common symptoms include:

Celiac disease symptoms in adults

Adults with celiac disease may experience digestive symptoms. In most cases, however, symptoms also affect other areas of the body. These symptoms may include:

Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) is another common symptom of celiac disease. DH is an intensely itchy skin rash made up of bumps and blisters. It may develop on the elbows, buttocks, and knees. DH affects approximately 15 to 25 percent of people with celiac disease. Those who do experience DH usually don’t have digestive symptoms.


Risk factors

Celiac disease tends to be more common in people who have:

  • A family member with celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis

  • Type 1 diabetes

  • Down syndrome or Turner syndrome

  • Autoimmune thyroid disease

  • Microscopic colitis (lymphocytic or collagenous colitis)

  • Addison's disease


Diagnosis

  • Serology testing looks for antibodies in your blood. Elevated levels of certain antibody proteins indicate an immune reaction to gluten.

  • Genetic testing for human leukocyte antigens (HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8) can be used to rule out celiac disease

Endoscopy. This test uses a long tube with a tiny camera that's put into your mouth and passed down your throat (upper endoscopy). The camera enables your doctor to view your small intestine and take a small tissue sample (biopsy) to analyze for damage to the villi.


Complications

Untreated, celiac disease can cause:

  • Malnutrition. This occurs if your small intestine can't absorb enough nutrients. Malnutrition can lead to anemia and weight loss. In children, malnutrition can cause slow growth and short stature.

  • Bone weakening. Malabsorption of calcium and vitamin D can lead to a softening of the bone (osteomalacia or rickets) in children and a loss of bone density (osteopenia or osteoporosis) in adults.

  • Infertility and miscarriage. Malabsorption of calcium and vitamin D can contribute to reproductive issues.

  • Lactose intolerance. Damage to your small intestine might cause you abdominal pain and diarrhea after eating or drinking dairy products that contain lactose. Once your intestine has healed, you might be able to tolerate dairy products again.

  • Cancer. People with celiac disease who don't maintain a gluten-free diet have a greater risk of developing several forms of cancer, including intestinal lymphoma and small bowel cancer.

  • Nervous system problems. Some people with celiac disease can develop problems such as seizures or a disease of the nerves to the hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy).


1. Natrum Sulph – It is the best treatment for celiac disease. Natrum Sulph is useful in cases of diarrhea with yellow, watery stool. The stool is voluminous and greasy. A burning sensation in the anus after passing stool may also be noted. There is rumbling and gurgling in bowels along with diarrhea. A person may also experience cramps around the umbilical region. Pain in the abdomen is another symptom. Gently rubbing the belly gives relief from the pain.

2. China – It is another well-indicated medicine for celiac disease. The most prominent indicator is the occurrence of diarrhea along with marked physical weakness and fatigue. The stool is yellow, frothy and there is excessive flatulence while passing stool. Undigested food may also pass in the stool. The abdomen seems bloated with gas. Due to gas, pain in the abdomen is also a symptom. Bending double affords relief in the abdominal pain. Another feature is belching with a bitter taste.

3. Lycopodium and Kali Carb – It is a well-suited treatment for celiac disease when excessive gas is a primary symptom. In these cases, there is bloating of the abdomen as well. The stomach feels full and distended, and there is a feeling of rolling of gas. There is also a sharp, persistent pain in the abdomen. A characteristic symptom for using the homeopathic medicine Kali Carb is unreleased gas with hard distension of abdomen. The stomach feels as if it will burst. Sour belching may also be present in some cases. Painless diarrhea can also be a symptom.

4. Carbo Veg – It is a useful medicine for celiac disease when stool is frequent and very bad to smell. The stool may also be extremely foul smelling in some cases. There is an ineffectual urge to pass stool, accompanied by a lot of release of wind. A distended abdomen makes it difficult to wear any tight clothing around the waist. Another symptom is a burning sensation in the stomach.

5. Arsenic Album – It is mostly indicated as a treatment for celiac disease when extreme weight loss is present. Another symptom is acute exhaustion. Diarrhea with foul smelling stool and wind are also symptoms in such cases. Sometimes the stool smells of rotten eggs. Cramping in the intestines arises along with stool. Pressure in the rectum is also present. Heartburn, nausea, and vomiting may also occur. Anxiety and restlessness may also accompany these symptoms in an extreme degree.

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