What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is also known as gluten-sensitive enteropathy, sprue, or non-tropical sprue. It is a medical condition that afflicts individuals who cannot tolerate gluten in their diet. Gluten is a protein combination that is abundant in rye, wheat and barley.
If you are feeling excessively fatigued and weak and have been having bowel issues such as frequent diarrhea; celiac disease or excessive gluten in your diet may be to blame. In celiac disease, the absorptive surface that comprises the small intestine is damaged when gluten is ingested.
The aforementioned symptoms are a prime indicator that the intestinal villi have become damaged, which is what eventually happens with celiac disease, leaving you unable to absorb vital nutrients. minerals and vitamins.
This ends up leaving the body deficient in much needed and required healthy fats, carbohydrates, minerals, proteins and vitamins. A lack of these requirements for good health leads to generally feeling run-down and lethargic, combined with frequent digestive upset and other, seemingly unrelated symptoms.
Difficulty in Diagnosing
There is truly not a “typical” case of celiac disease, yet an accurate diagnosis is essential to overcoming the presented symptoms. It affects each person differently and can actually present differently in men, women and children. It can be tricky to diagnose due to the vast differences in symptoms.
In fact, even though overall celiac disease diagnosis rates and awareness seem to be improving, it has been common for patients to unfortunately go up to 10 years without receiving a correct diagnosis.
Celiac Affects Women, Men and Children in Different Ways
A significant study was conducted that found that approximately 40% of women reported “other” symptoms of celiac disease such as infertility and menstrual disorders. Half of the women claimed their menstrual cycle issues developed prior to any other symptoms of celiac disease. Approximately 30% of women diagnosed with celiac disease also had a secondary autoimmune disorder of some kind.
Of course any of these symptoms may be the end result of a different medical condition, and nothing to do with gluten sensitivity. The only way to determine if celiac disease is the culprit is to undergo an intestinal biopsy that shows villous atrophy.
In men, celiac disease has been linked to infertility. Similar to women, approximately 30% of men experience autoimmune diseases including Sjogren's Syndrome and thyroid disorders. Men have also shown higher numbers in forms of celiac-related reflux and exhibit more liver abnormalities compared to women. Lastly, men seem to have higher rates of itchy skin rash dermatitis herpetiformis compared to women.
Children with celiac are often very skinny and seem to fail to thrive. Compared to their peers, they may be behind the normal rates for height and weight. They can suffer from abdominal pain, smelly diarrhea or have frequent episodes of constipation. Due to their constant bloating, their stomachs may stick out.
Celiac Disease or Crohn’s Disease?
Celiac is sometimes misdiagnosed as Crohn’s disease. This is an inflammatory bowel disease that enables the formation of ulcers to occur anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus. Similar symptoms to celiac disease include: feeling nauseous, extreme tiredness, diarrhea and unexplained weight loss.