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Celiac disease

Celiac disease

The term food intolerance refers to disorders and abnormalities in nutrient absorption which generally leads to malnutrition. Common malabsorption problems like celiac disease are commonly seen in children other than adults.

What is Celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an auto-immune disorder which means that the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissues. Also known as Gluten enteropathy, it is characterized by sensitivity towards gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. The onset of this disease is usually from infancy to young adulthood. It usually develops within the first three years of birth.

What causes celiac disease?

A family history of celiac disease makes babies more prone to it.This sensitivity occurs in people who are genetically predisposed.

What are the symptoms of celiac disease?

The symptoms of celiac disease usually appear 3-5 months after first consuming foods that contain gluten, although in some cases the symptoms may appear in the first month itself.

Failure to thrive, loss of appetite and pot bellied, large, pale and repulsive stools due to presence of free fatty acids, chronic diarrhea in young infants while chronic diarrhea, constipation or vomiting in older infants are some of the common symptoms. Malabsorption and nutrient deficiencies and can lead to many problems like anemia (iron deficiency), inadequate bone growth and development, hormonal disorders etc. Poor feeding, muscle wasting, irritability, mouth ulcers, dermatitis, extreme tiredness etc are other symptoms.

How to treat and manage celiac disease?

Presently, the only treatment with celiac disease is a lifelong gluten free diet. However, the diet may need to be supplemented with extra vitamins, minerals and proteins to make up for the deficiencies.

Wheat, rye, oats and barley need to be substituted with rice, soybean, maize and corn. The meals must be planned out with the help of a dietician or doctor.
The labels of every food item needs to be read carefully. Baked food items like cakes, breads and biscuits also contain wheat.Many other daily use products like vitamin supplements and lip balms may also contain gluten. It is best to consult the doctor about choosing food items.