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  • Scott Adams

    What is Celiac Disease?

    Scott Adams
    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Once thought to be a childhood disease that would be outgrown, recent evidence indicates that it is not uncommon for the symptoms of celiac disease to disappear during late childhood or adolescence, giving the appearance of a cure.

    Question mark. Image: CC BY 2.0--dr_tr
    Caption: Question mark. Image: CC BY 2.0--dr_tr

    Celiac.com 05/29/2020 - Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that affects around 1% of the population. People with celiac disease suffer an autoimmune reaction when they consume wheat, rye or barley because they cannot break down a proline-rich protein found in them called gliadin. The resulting autoimmune reaction causes destruction of the villi in the small intestine, which results in malabsorption of nutrients. Untreated celiac disease can lead to serious issues over time, including a higher risk for certain deadly cancers.

    Celiac disease is also called coeliac disease, nontropical sprue, celiac sprue, gluten intolerant enteropathy, and gluten sensitive enteropathy. Sometimes people refer to celiac disease as an allergy to wheat or gluten, but that's not accurate. It's an autoimmune condition.

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    There are Three Types of Celiac Disease 

    1. Classical Celiac Disease, in which patients present with malabsorption syndrome. 
    2. Non-classical Celiac Disease, in which patients experience extra-intestinal and/or gastrointestinal symptoms other than diarrhea. 
    3. Subclinical Celiac Disease, with no visible symptoms. 

    Celiac Disease is More Common in Women
    Celiac disease affects both sexes, but it is more common in women than in men.

    Celiac disease can begin at any age, from soon after cereal grains are introduced in infancy, to later in life, even when the individual has "safely" eaten cereal grains all along. 

    What Triggers Celiac Disease?
    The onset of celiac disease seems to require two components. First, a genetic predisposition. Two specific genetic markers, called HLA sub-factors, are present in well over 90% of all celiacs in America.

    Second, some kind of trigger is needed. The trigger may be environmental, as in overexposure to wheat, situational, perhaps due to severe emotional stress, physical, such as a pregnancy, an operation, or pathological, such as a viral infection.

    Once thought to be a childhood disease that would be outgrown, recent evidence indicates that it is not uncommon for the symptoms of celiac disease to disappear during late childhood or adolescence, giving the appearance of a cure. Unfortunately, damage still occurs during these years of apparent health, and later in life these celiacs may find they have suffered considerable damage to the small intestine, and have for years deprived themselves of important nutrients.

    Celiac Disease Common Among First-Degree Relatives 
    There is clear evidence of a family tendency toward celiac disease. At least 5-10% of the first-level relatives of people with celiac disease, meaning parents, children, and siblings, of diagnosed celiacs may develop celiac disease. 

    A Mayo Clinic team found celiac disease in 160 of 360 first-degree relatives of celiac patients, 62% of those relatives found to have celiac were women. All diagnosed first-degree relatives had positive anti-TTG titers. 

    Celiac Relatives Rarely Show Classic Symptoms
    They found clinical features in 148 diagnosed first-degree relatives. Just nine of those diagnosed first-degree relatives had classic symptoms, 97 showed non-classic symptoms, and 42 showed no symptoms. Histology reports from 155 first-degree relatives showed 12 with Marsh 1, 77 with Marsh 3a, and 66 with Marsh 3b. 

    Quick, accurate diagnosis is needed to prevent celiac disease from going untreated and causing long-term, irreversible, and sometimes life-threatening conditions.

    Edited by Scott Adams


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    Celiac disease is:

    1. risk from cross-contamination

    2. social isolation

    3. malnutrition and endocrine disease 

    4. risk of cancer of the GI tract & lymphatics

    5. calming non-gluten-free peoples anger and hostility

    6. substituting what you've grown up eating with with what you now must have

    7. reading ingredient labels, even on products previously purchased because products undergo change

    8. eliminating gluten-cross reactors of which there are greater than 25. E.G. yeast. Forget about breads or having your biscuits rise.

    9. pain

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  • About Me

    Scott Adams was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1994, and, due to the nearly total lack of information available at that time, was forced to become an expert on the disease in order to recover. In 1995 he launched the site that later became Celiac.com to help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives.  He is co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of the (formerly paper) newsletter Journal of Gluten Sensitivity. In 1998 he founded The Gluten-Free Mall which he sold in 2014. Celiac.com does not sell any products, and is 100% advertiser supported.

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