Celiac Disease. For most the name feels familiar, but the science behind this condition is still a haze. To the basics!
Celiac Disease is a very prevalent condition, affecting millions of people each year in the US alone. It is a genetic immune related condition in which people cannot eat gluten as it causes damage to the lining of the small intestine. This damage prevents the individual from absorbing ample nutrients from the food they’re consuming.
Why is this? The small intestinal lining consists of many hairlike projections called villi. These structures are responsible for the diffusion of nutrients from the small intestine, into the capillaries of the mesentery, and into the bloodstream.
In individuals with Celiac Disease, when they consume gluten, the immune system has an abnormal response in which the immune system attacks the villi, damaging the lining (giving it a flat appearance).
Furthermore, with a damaged intestinal lining, no matter how much the individual consumes, the small intestines will be unable to absorb ample amounts of nutrients. With little nutrients being absorbed, children with celiacs disease do not grow at normal rates.
Though the magnitude of symptoms is dependent on the person [some have severe symptoms, and some have none], if gluten is eaten, inflammation, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, gas, infertility, rashes, and even early osteoporosis can be caused. Irritability and depression are also common effects in many individuals.
Physicians check for Celiac Disease either by doing Blood Work, or by conducting a Biopsy. In Blood Work, physicians measure the relative amounts of antibodies in the patient’s bloodstream. Typically patients with Celiacs Disease have higher than normal amounts.
Though Celiac Disease has no cure, patients can lower the intensity of symptoms by simply avoiding gluten. With research progressing rapidly and new innovations surfacing everyday, maybe on day, there will be a cure.
“Celiac Disease | Gluten Intolerance.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 15 June 2020, medlineplus.gov/celiacdisease.html.
“Celiac Disease.” Celiac Disease | Johns Hopkins Medicine, http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/celiac-disease.
Ruiz, Atenodoro R. “Small Intestine – Digestive Disorders.” Merck Manuals Consumer Version, Merck Manuals, Oct. 2019, http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/digestive-disorders/biology-of-the-digestive-system/small-intestine.