Celiac Disease video:
More about Celiac Disease: Celiac disease has been known by many different names in the medical literature over the years, including gluten-sensitive enteropathy and celiac sprue (to differentiate it from tropical sprue). CELIAC DISEASE can be defined as a permanent intolerance to the gliadin fraction of wheat protein and related alcohol-soluble proteins (called prolamines) found in rye and barley. CELIAC DISEASE occurs in genetically susceptible individuals who eat these proteins, leading to an autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system starts attacking normal tissue. This condition continues as long as these food products are in the diet.
The resulting inflammation and atrophy of the intestinal villi (small, finger-like projections in the small intestine) results in the malabsorption of critical vitamins, minerals, and calories. Signs and symptoms of the disease classically include diarrhea, short stature, iron-deficiency anemia and lactose intolerance. However, many patients will also present with “non-classical” symptoms, such as abdominal pain, “irritable bowel”, and osteoporosis. Patients may also be screened for celiac disease because of the presence of another autoimmune disease, such as type I diabetes or thyroid disease, or a family history of celiac disease, without having any obvious symptoms. Serum antibodies can be utilized to screen for celiac disease. However, the key to confirming the diagnosis remains a small intestinal biopsy, and the patient’s subsequent clinical response to a gluten-free diet. Clinicians must maintain a high index of suspicion for this disease, as it is significantly under-diagnosed.
Gluten is the common term for a group of proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and grains derived from them or having different names like triticale, durum, kamut, semolina, and spelt. Grains are so common in our diet that gluten is second only to sugar as our most commonly consumed ingredient.
Celiac sprue, also known as celiac disease or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is a chronic disease of the digestive tract that interferes with the digestion and absorption of food nutrients. People with celiac sprue cannot tolerate gliadin, the alcohol-soluble fraction of gluten. Gluten is a protein commonly found in wheat, rye, and barley. Most patients with celiac disease tolerate oats, but they should be monitored closely. When people with celiac sprue ingest gliadin, the mucosa of their intestines is damaged by an immunologically mediated inflammatory response, resulting in maldigestion and malabsorption. Patients with celiac disease can present with failure to thrive and diarrhea (the classical form). However, some patients have only subtle symptoms (atypical celiac disease) or are asymptomatic (silent celiac disease).