Symptoms of Celiac Disease in Adults

Celiac disease is a nasty condition which develops within the small intestine and can occur in both adults and children alike. Undigested food from the stomach moves into the small intestine where the normal digestion process begins. When a person has celiac disease, though, this process is severely affected.

Celiac disease is a relatively common disease which threatens and eventually damages the lining of the small intestine; this in turn leads to a malabsorption of vitamins and minerals from your diet which are needed to ensure a state of premium health. This malabsorption is due to an allergy to gluten, a protein which can be found in many types of food sources such as barley,wheat, rye and various kinds of oats. Because of the malabsorption, the required amount of nutrients that keep the body fit and active are greatly reduced leading to mineral and vitamin deficiencies in the body’s system.

There are varying symptoms associated with celiac disease, which include weight loss, excessive flatulence, diarrhoea, constant tiredness, iron deficiency anaemia, pain in the joints and bones, and steatorrhea.

Steatorrhea or steatorrhoea is the presence of excess fat in fecal matter and is a tell-tale symptom of celiac disease. The stools are light in colour and often float due to the excess of lipids within the stools. They are rotten smelling, too. Due to the increased fat or oil content there may be some faecal incontinence which can cause anxiety in those who suffer from celiac disease.

Adults with celiac disease may only exhibit symptoms of abdominal swelling or bloating, and excessive gas. In these circumstances, it is harder to obtain a definite diagnosis, so a small intestinal biopsy is often taken to determine the presence of celiac disease. Specific blood tests such as anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies, endomysial antibodies, and anti-gliadin antibodies, frequently confirm the presence of Celiac disease.

Other signals and symptoms to watch for in some cases of celiac disease include:

* weight loss that has no apparent reason
* tenderness of the bones
* mood changes suggesting depression and anxiety
* cramps in the muscles
* issues surrounding infertility
* Tingling and numbness of limbs due to nerve damage
* Seizures
* Mouth ulcers
* Damage to the teeth
* Irregular menstrual cycles
* Skin rashes

There is also the increased risk of miscarriage or birth defects when celiac disease remains undiagnosed and untreated in pregnant women, as the foetus does not receive the required nutrients to sustain a healthy pregnancy.

There is no real cure for celiac disease; but it can be effectively controlled by undertaking a gluten free diet. If strictly followed, an improvement in symptoms may be seen in as little as two days hours. If an individual with celiac disease does not respond positively to a gluten free diet, then it is usually because they have lapses with the diet. The diet must be very strict since the presence of gluten in any form can immediately cause symptoms to reoccur.

When undiagnosed and untreated, celiac disease can lead to malnutrition with its own set of complications. These involve problems such as anaemia and weight loss coupled with decreased resistance to infection and injury leading to further disease. Malnutrition is a serious problem and can be fatal in extreme circumstances.

The incidence of celiac disease is quite high in western countries ranging from one in a hundred in some European countries to one in three thousand in North America. However it has been proposed that these numbers are underestimated due to the fact that many people do not develop symptoms until later in their lives and that in fact the figure for North America could be equal to that in Europe.

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