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Celiac Disease: Symptoms and Treatment
Symptoms
A huge problem of celiac disease is that it often remains undiagnosed or confused with such gastrointestinal disorders as irritable bowel syndrome, iron-deficiency anemia, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, intestinal infections, and chronic fatigue syndrome. This happens due to the variety and diversity of the symptoms celiac disease may cause in different people.
 
There is, however, a number of the most often observed signs. Here belong:
-         diarrhoea;
-         gas, bloating, and abdominal pain;
-         fatigue;
-         weight loss;
-         depression, irritability (especially in children), and behavioural changes;
-         menstrual changes, infertility, and miscarriage;
-         anemia;
-         joint and muscle pain, etc.
 
There are also some conditions, frequently observed in celiac disease sufferers: aphthous ulcers (pale sores inside the mouth) and dermatitis herpetiformis (itchy skin rash, peculiar to this gastrointestinal disorder). Still, some people have no symptoms at all.
 
Children also suffer from celiac disease. Doctors confirm that irritability is one of the most common symptoms in kids. Moreover, they say that it may sometimes be the only warning sign along with the absence of other symptoms. Not rarely, however, delayed growth and failure to develop normally is observed in children.
 

 

Diagnosing celiac disease
It is sometimes quite difficult to diagnose celiac disease, since its symptoms are so varied and may be traced to other gastrointestinal disorders. In order to be sure a patient has celiac disease blood tests may be done. They measure the levels of Immunoglobulin A (IgA), anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTGA), and Immunoglobulin A anti-endomysium antibodies (AEA). Statistics confirms that overwhelming majority of sufferers have high levels of those antibodies.

 

Small intestine biopsy to evaluate the damage to the villi is also a way to diagnose celiac disease. Biopsy means that a tiny piece of the intestine will be taken by a doctor with the help of endoscope – a thin tube, which is used to examine gastrointestinal tract.

 

Treatment
The only treatment, which also turns out to be effective for the vast majority of celiac disease patients, is a life-long gluten-free diet. The matter is that in case the trigger of the disease – gluten - is eliminated from the diet, immune system of the body stops damaging the small intestine lining. The latter may be renewed with the lapse of time in the majority of patients. Usually, it takes about 3-6 months for children and younger adults and about 2 years for older adults to improve their state.
 

 

If following the diet fails to improve patient’s health, it may be the sign that intestine has already undergone such damage that it can no longer be healed. It is also possible that a patient still consumes some products, which contain gluten, but he/she is unaware of that.
 
Some doctors have to recommend using steroids or immunosuppressants in case diet has failed to improve the symptoms.

 

Complications
The longer celiac disease remains untreated, the greater the risk of complications development is. Diseases, which may result from this disorder, are: cancer, osteoporosis, anemia, pancreatic insufficiency, lactose intolerance, seizures and others. It is also necessary to add that some consequences of celiac disease cannot be eliminated even if the villi of the small intestine are healed. Here belong teeth discoloration, delayed growth, and some others.
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Afterword
The biggest problem of celiac disease is that today an immense amount of its victims go untreated. Some of them suffer the asymptomatic form of the disorder, others are misdiagnosed.
 
Modern scientific society acknowledges that many doctors lack experience and skills to timely diagnose this disease; in addition, only a limited number of laboratories have necessary equipment to be of real help. Hopefully, now that the condition is studied more thoroughly, things will change for better and more sufferers will be rescued from the claws of celiac disease.
 
Ivanna


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