Do you have abdominal pain after eating? Do you feel bloated as well? These symptoms can be caused by a multitude of digestive related health conditions, one of which is celiac disease. If after bread, pasta, pizza, pastry or the like is eaten you feel stomach discomfort, then read on for a possible cause.
Celiac disease, aka sprue, gluten intolerance or celiac sprue, is your immune system inappropriately reacting to gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. The primary task of your immune system is to seek and destroy, vital to ridding your body of harmful pathogens.
However with gluten intolerance, what’s unfortunately destroyed or damaged are villi. Villi are tiny structures lining your small intestine that allow nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream. This autoimmune disease response to gluten impairs their capability, causing malabsorption that can lead to malnutrition and unintentional weight loss.
What actually causes celiac disease is unknown, but one popular theory is inadequate exposure to antigens during immune system development. As such, your immune system fails to distinguish that gluten is not harmful and responds with intolerance. Additionally, this digestive disease tends to be genetic and considered fairly common. In some, their gluten intolerance may not cause any health issues until after the occurrence of a triggering event, like surgery, physical injury, pregnancy, childbirth, infection or severe stress.
If you have celiac disease, then eating gluten is poisonous to you. For some, the intolerance may initially go unnoticed because no symptoms, so villi damage progressively happens without any warning. Whereas others will struggle with various distressing gastrointestinal symptoms from the outset, including:
In the event your gluten intolerance goes untreated, at some point you’ll likely start experiencing further complicating symptoms, for instance:
- skin rash
- canker sores
- lack of energy
- alopecia areata
- depression, anxiety
- migraine headaches
- infertility, miscarriage
- peripheral neuropathy
- iron deficiency anemia
- bone pain, osteoporosis
Celiac disease is often accompanied by other autoimmune related health problems which frequently add to your list of symptoms, like:
- type 1 diabetes
- Addison’s disease
- lactose intolerance
- rheumatoid arthritis
- Sjögren’s syndrome
- autoimmune hepatitis
Celiac disease is extremely detrimental to your health, so if you even think you might have an intolerance to gluten ask your health care provider to test for it. It is very important that you continue to consume gluten until you’ve been tested because it’s your body’s production of antibodies to gluten that signifies you have celiac disease. No gluten means no antibodies, so taking the test causes a missed diagnosis.
The principal treatment for celiac disease is following a gluten free diet. Often, the damage that’s been done can be reversed. With the removal of gluten from your diet you probably will start feeling better within a couple of days. However, villa healing and replacement does take a while. Bear in mind that just eating a trace of gluten can set off damaging inflammation coupled with your intolerance response symptoms. Thus, this protein must be completely excluded from your diet, which can be a challenge because of its widespread use.
You can assume gluten’s presence in anything made with wheat, rye and barley. Besides the obvious foods like cereal, pasta, pastry, bread and pizza, gluten is also incorporated in many processed foods, examples being cold cuts, salad dressings and beer. Since, gluten is used as an added filler and thickening agent, your surest bet for avoiding an accidental ingestion of gluten is make your diet processed food free as well. Or only buy products that bear a gluten free label. Anytime your meal is prepared by another, extreme care needs to be taken before you eat to avoid gluten.
For now, strictly following a gluten free diet is your only option for managing celiac disease!