What causes celiac disease later in life?
Once your immune system starts attacking your body, it can lead to a persistent autoimmune illness called celiac disease.1 Gluten is celiac disease's immune system's primary target. Barley, rye, and wheat products all contain the protein known as gluten.
The small intestine is harmed by the immune system in a celiac disease sufferer who consumes gluten. This can cause a number of health issues, and the inflammation this immune response causes can have a variety of effects.
Every system of the body might be affected by these symptoms, which vary from person to person. You should be aware of the following celiac disease symptoms, which are some of the most prevalent.
Common Signs of Celiac Disease
GI symptoms, or those that affect the digestive system, may come to mind when you think of celiac disease.
According to Salvatore Alesci, MD, Ph.D., chief scientist and strategy officer at the patient advocacy and research organization Beyond Celiac, gastrointestinal symptoms are the primary presentation of the condition in 40% to 60% of patients.
These signs may include:
Stools with a bad odor or that float
It might be challenging to distinguish these symptoms from those of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), one of the more typical GI illnesses.
I rule out celiac disease before I identify someone with IBS, according to integrative medicine doctor and registered dietitian Amy Burkhart, MD, RDN, who specializes in gut health.
Despite the fact that GI symptoms may be among the celiac disease symptoms that are most frequently seen, 40% to 60% of those who have the disease don't experience any GI symptoms, according to Dr. Alesci. And the main factor in patients receiving incorrect diagnoses or being undetected is a lack of the characteristic GI symptoms.
Dr. Alesci stated that although "most people don't think about celiac disease as a disease of the brain," a team of researchers at the University of Sheffield in the [United Kingdom] have demonstrated that those who have the condition suffer brain damage.
The study discovered that people with celiac disease had shorter reaction times, among other factors. Other neurological symptoms of celiac disease, according to Dr. Alesci, include short-term memory loss, difficulty focusing or finding the correct words, and attention issues.
Depression and Anxiety
Your body is continuously in peril from chronic inflammation, according to Dr. Alesci, and you might also feel anxious. You may be more likely to experience depression if you have malabsorption of nutrients due to celiac disease.4 Having a chronic illness identified may also cause anxiety symptoms.
The University of Sheffield study also discovered that participants experienced sadness, thoughts of self-harm, anxiety symptoms, and discontent relating to their health.
Balance and Coordination Difficulties
According to Dr. Alesci, the cerebellum, a part of the brain that regulates coordination and movement, contains the same antibodies that assault your small intestine.
According to Dr. Alesci, patients may have uncoordinated balance, walking, and eye movements. Other signs and symptoms of celiac disease include numbness, tingling, and weakness (neuropathy).
Reduced Bone Density
You run the chance of developing osteoporosis, a condition in which your bones weaken and crack. Weaker bones result from the body's inability to absorb nutrients.
This is brought on by calcium and vitamin D3 malabsorption, claims Dr. Alesci. A gluten-free diet will facilitate the assimilation of those elements from your diet, but you'll probably need to take supplements as well.
Disorder of the Thyroid
Thyroid dysfunction is a further consequence of poor nutrition absorption.
Graves' disease and Hashimoto's thyroiditis are autoimmune thyroid disorders that can be brought on by celiac disease. It is believed that thyroid disease may be brought on by the body's inability to absorb iron and vitamin D.
According to Dr. Burkhart, canker sores that reoccur frequently and enamel abnormalities like spots on teeth could be symptoms of celiac disease.
Dr. Burkhart said, "If you have frequent mouth sores or other dental problems like fractures and tooth decay, that should prompt a celiac screening."
The onset of mouth sores may be influenced by chronic stress or inflammation. Additionally, iron, folate, and vitamin B12 malabsorption can cause your tongue to burn and feel dry.
If you don't follow a gluten-free diet, those symptoms could eventually make you more likely to develop oral and esophageal cancer.
Lack of iron intake or absorption can cause anemia. This nutrient aids in the production of hemoglobin, a blood protein required for the transportation of oxygen throughout your body and for the production of energy. And because celiac disease hinders the body's ability to absorb nutrients, this can lead to an iron deficit.
Iron supplements are the preferred treatment.11 Anemia that does not improve after supplementing could be a symptom of celiac disease, according to Dr. Burkhart.
Pregnancy and childbirth may be challenging for those with celiac disease. Dr. Alesci stated that this is because ingesting gluten may develop antibodies that assault the placenta.
According to research, 1% to 3% of women with unexplained infertility may have celiac disease but are unaware of it. According to another research, males with undiagnosed celiac disease have reduced reproductive rates.
In one study, it was discovered that women with celiac disease who had not yet received a diagnosis had a much-increased chance of miscarriage and stillbirth. Following diagnosis, the likelihood of having reproductive problems was comparable to that of people without celiac disease.
Fatigue with Loss of Weight
Feeling exhausted or realizing you've lost weight is common due to the stress and demands of daily living. Even though they are both very typical, such symptoms can indicate a number of illnesses, including autoimmune disorders.
Therefore, discuss the possibility of celiac disease with your healthcare practitioner if you notice that you are experiencing unusual fatigue or that you are losing weight despite not attempting to do so (which can occur if nutrients are not being absorbed adequately).
HOW CAN YOU TELL IF THE SYMPTOMS YOU'RE EXPERIENCING ARE DUE TO CELIAC DISEASE?
The presence of so many symptoms across the body makes diagnosing celiac disease difficult. Celiac illness has more than 250 recognized symptoms.
Nevertheless, of all chronic autoimmune conditions, Dr. Alesci said that "celiac is the most underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed disease."
Connecting the dots between symptoms that initially appear unconnected is frequently necessary for diagnosis, and you might need to see various physicians for every issue. Only 17% of Americans, who account for one in 133, are aware that they have celiac disease.
"Celiac disease has been regarded as a rare disease, but I don't consider it one in 100 rare," said Dr. Burkhart.
Although those who get celiac disease are genetically predisposed to the condition, the disease process must also be initiated by an environmental factor. Dr. Burkhart claims that causes may include viral infections, pregnancy, menopause, or nutritional issues.
Furthermore, because celiac disease can run in families, it's crucial to let your doctor know if a first- or second-degree relative is affected. This will allow them to schedule a test for you sooner.
A quick blood test for antibodies is the initial step in the celiac disease diagnosis process. The diagnosis can then be confirmed by a small intestinal biopsy. One thing to keep in mind is that you must continue to ingest gluten before a blood test for celiac disease if you want an accurate result.
How Can Celiac Disease Symptoms Be Managed?
As soon as a diagnosis is made, "the only treatment is a lifelong strict, gluten-free diet," according to Dr. Burkhart. Because of this, some people are reluctant to receive a diagnosis of celiac disease. But knowing is still important.
Small intestine and esophageal cancer risk is increased by celiac disease and nonadherence to a gluten-free diet. Inflammation from it may also cause the small intestine to narrow. If you don't control your celiac disease, your chances of having osteoporosis, infertility, neuropathy, and many vitamin deficiencies rise.
An autoimmune ailment called celiac disease manifests itself in a variety of ways. Every system in the human body can be affected by the disease, which can cause symptoms ranging from GI (gastrointestinal) (such as bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort) to neurological (such as brain fog and depression).
The danger of subsequent health issues might be reduced by getting identified if you exhibit any celiac disease symptoms. If you are exhibiting celiac disease symptoms or have a family member who has the condition, consult your healthcare professional.