Digestive Disorders

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Celiac Disease - What Is It?

Written by Ganiggle
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Celiac Disease is a digestive disorder in which the person affected with this disease has a sensitivity to gluten. Gluten is a protein which is found in wheat, barley, and rye.

The body of someone who has celiac disease will release certain antibodies when gluten is ingested. These antibodies will attack cells and tissue inside the body. This normally happens in the small intestine. The inner wall of the small intestine is lined with tiny hairlike structures called villi. Villi are responsible for absorbing nutrients into the body. When these villi become damaged or destroyed by the antibodies they will have either limited or no ability to absorb nutrients from food into the body.

When the villi are no longer able to absorb nutrients, the person can suffer from malnutrition no matter how much food they eat. In young children this can be especially harmful as they are going through various crucial stages of development. Being deprived of nutrition at these times can stunt growth causing short stature, and dental defects of the permanent teeth.

Some of the symptoms of celiac disease are bloating, nausea, and chronic diarrhea. The usual test for celiac disease is a blood test, where the patient must continue to eat gluten up until the blood test so that the antibodies will be present.

Once proved positive for celiac disease, the only cure is a gluten free diet for life. While this can be difficult to maintain, it is crucial to keep yourself healthy. After becoming dedicated to the gluten free diet, villi in the small intestine will begin to heal so that absorbing nutrients is once again possible. It is important to follow a gluten free diet, because if you are positive for celiac disease and continue to eat gluten, long term damage can be caused. Liver disease, and cancer of the intestine are just a few examples of what can happen with continued exposure to gluten.

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