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Diagnosing Celiac Disease

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Posted by on Tuesday, February 1, 2011, 7:19
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The celiac or coeliac disease or gluten insensitive enteropathy is a side effect of a genetic anomaly in the human genome, which makes the body intolerant to foods containing gliadin, a component of gluten. This intolerance to gliadin manifests itself through a vicious attack by the immune system, on the assimilation centers of the body in the small intestine called villi. This happens after gliadin reacts with the enzyme tissue transglutaminase.

Diagnosing Celiac Disease
Diagnosing Celiac Disease

It is an allergic reaction of the immune system of the body, in which it mistakenly attacks the villis considering the gliadin byproduct to be a pathogen. The villi are a set cells that line the inner surface of the small intestine which are responsible for assimilating nutrients from the digested food. If the villis are destroyed, assimilation system of the body is damaged. Nutrient assimilation comes to a halt. As a result the victim suffers malnutrition, constipation and many more long range effects, if the problem is not diagnosed and rectified soon.

Gluten is a compound formed from the proteins gliadin and glutenin. Barley, wheat and Rye contain gluten which include starch also. Celiac affected patients should therefore obviously avoid gluten rich foods. The good news for the people affected by this disease is that the intestinal healing starts immediately if they start having a gluten-free diet and avoid the culprit in the first place.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease
The classic symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, sudden lowering in body weight and general lethargy or weakness. In infants, it may cause growth to be stunted. Lactose intolerance may be a side effect of this disease.

The destruction of centers of assimilation, the villi causes decrease in some vital nutrient intake like the vitamins A, D, E, K, B12, calcium, folic acid. This causes many nutrient deficient or mineral deficiency related diseases like iron deficiency and megaloblastic anemia, and osteoporosis.

As the disease causes serious nutrient deficiency, many vital systems of the body are starved for vital ingredients required for their operation. Therefore, many other diseases crop up.

Diagnosing Celiac Disease
Any disease is identified by tests, through the presence of the specific antibodies that the body generates in response to it. Similarly celiac disease is identified by its specific antibodies present in the blood. It may happen that some people have stopped the intake of gluten foods. In that case they would have to make some small amount of intake, over some weeks for testing the presence of the disease.

In victims who are in an advanced state of development, experiencing diarrhea, vomiting and serious loss of weight, an endoscopy and a biopsy may confirm the incidence of disease. Endoscopy which literally means ‘looking inside’ involves, inserting a camera attached tube inside the body to get actual picture of the affected organs internally. Biopsy involves removing some cell tissue from the duodenum (the initial part of the small intestine) for examination under a microscope. These two procedures along with the serological (blood) test which identifies specific antibodies like anti-reticulin, anti-gliadin or anti-endomysium can definitely confirm celiac disease.

Treatment of Celiac Disease
The only known and effective cure for celiac currently, is avoiding consumption of all kinds of gluten-rich food stuffs. The doctor supplies patients with a list of foods that they must avoid consuming. One can take help of an expert dietician who can plan a food program accordingly.

The reason for lack of a cure is that the origin of this disease is a genetic anomaly. Researchers haven’t yet found a way to avoid the immune action of the body to gliadin as there is a programming anomaly in the immune system itself which lies in the genetic code. Still, celiac affected people can live normal lives if they only avoid gluten related foods like wheat.

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