I was diagnosed with celiac disease after suffering for years. I've compiled my research to help others with the disease.
What Is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease (CD), also known as celiac sprue or simply sprue, is a systemic autoimmune disease that attacks the villi of the small intestine in genetically predisposed individuals. CD can affect any organ system in the human body and presents with a variety of symptoms.
All too many people suffering from the condition go undiagnosed for years because doctors do not routinely screen for it. In fact, most individuals are either misdiagnosed or go undiagnosed because they do not present with "classic celiac symptoms."
Up until recently, research on the disease and our knowledge of the condition was limited. What was thought to be true several years ago has been found to be untrue in many cases. Researchers are now looking at gluten, prolamins, and lectins, and the findings are interesting, to say the least.
Classical Symptoms of Celiac Disease
Steatorrhea or fatty stools
My Experience and Diagnosis With Celiac Disease
My diagnosis took years to confirm even though I had symptoms in my childhood. When I was a kid, I didn't present with the "hallmark" symptom of diarrhea. Instead, I had nausea and canker sores. I was not diagnosed until 2009 when I told my present physician of the non-classical symptoms of celiacs I had been experiencing. I was often nauseated after eating bread, corn, oatmeal, and rice which were staples in my diet for years. My doctor soon ordered several blood tests and voila! I was officially diagnosed with celiac disease.
My mother is a different story. She suffered for years, complained about excessive diarrhea and nausea, yet her doctor never once pursued testing. If not for my diagnosis, my learned knowledge about genetic predisposition, and insisting that my mother get tested, she would still be suffering.
If you or a family member has already been diagnosed with celiacs, then you need to help your body heal. You can learn how to live with CD especially if it is diagnosed early. I spent hours researching the disease and have compiled my research so that you don't have to invest hours of your time like I have and still do. It is extremely important to heal in order to avoid the myriad of complications that can emerge if you choose not to treat the disease properly.
Celiac Disease Symptoms
The disease can present with a myriad of possible symptoms at any time during one's lifetime. Symptoms may appear shortly after infancy or the disease can lie dormant for years and present during the third or fourth decade of life or even later.
The most common or "classic" and readily recognizable gastrointestinal symptoms are:
- Diarrhea (what doctors look for)
- Steatorrhea or fatty stools (they float like a boat)
- Abdominal pain
Important Information on CD
Celiac disease all too often goes undiagnosed for years because it can present with a myriad of confusing symptoms. Childhood symptoms may be different from adult-onset, and the disease can affect any organ system in the human body. Long-term, undiagnosed celiacs can affect the heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, and kidneys, not just the small intestines. People with long-term, undiagnosed CD may experience GI, hormonal, neurological, and other systemic symptoms together or intermittently.
The Cause of Celiac Disease
Gliadin, a glycoprotein, and a protein known as glutenin (both of which are found in abundance in wheat, barley, and rye) together trigger the disease. In layman terms, CD is caused by a reaction to proteins (prolamins) found in wheat, barley, rye, and other grains.
Celiac disease is not the same as a wheat allergy or another food allergy. A true wheat allergy is immediately life-threatening and triggers anaphylaxis, whereas CD may become life-threatening over time depending on the severity of damage to the small intestine and comorbidity with other autoimmune diseases.