Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive system. This disease happens when the human body has an intolerance to gluten. Gluten is a protein that is found in many of the foods we eat, including barley, rye, and wheat. Gluten is also found in other items, such as lip balm, vitamins, and medication. The small intestine is damaged by the disease and disrupts the absorption of nutrients in food. A part of the small intestine called the villi is destroyed when foods that contain gluten are consumed. Normally, the villi in the small intestine allows the nutrients to be absorbed. The nutrients go through the intestine making their way to the bloodstream. Without the villi, a person suffers from malnutrition no matter how much food they consume.
Diagnosing Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is often difficult to get diagnosed. Some of the symptoms of the disease are similar to other problems. A few of the diseases that are confused with Celiac are the following.
- Iron deficiency anemia due to a heavy menstrual flow
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Intestinal infections
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
A helpful test to determine if a person has this disease is a blood test that tests for high levels of anti-endomysium antibodies or anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies. Another test that is done is a biopsy of the small intestine. The biopsy will reveal if there is any damage to the villi.
Treating Celiac Disease
There is only one treatment for this disease. The treatment is to have a diet that is free of any gluten. It can be difficult to find out which foods contain gluten, but a dietician can help with that problem. A dietician can give you a list of foods that are OK to eat. You can also learn from the dietician how to read food labels to find out if the food contains gluten. Once the gluten is cut out of the diet, people with Celiac find that their symptoms will stop. The existing damage to their small intestine is healed, and no further damage will be done. The change of diet will be a lifelong one. Even a tiny amount of gluten can stir up problems again.
What Are The Neurological Symptoms Of Celiac Disease?
Neurology is the section of medical expertise that deals with problems and disorders within the nervous system. Neurological symptoms can be present in someone suffering from Celiac disease. The more common neurological symptoms of Celiac include the following.
- Tingling sensation in the hands and feet
- Burning sensation in the hands and feet
- Numbness in the hands and feet
- Loss of feeling in the hands and feet
- Decreased sensation in the face or over the entire body
There are other neurological symptoms as well. The following symptoms can be misdiagnosed as something other than Celiac disease.
- Brain fog
- Difficulty concentrating
- Personality changes
- Memory loss
As a result of having Celiac disease, a person could develop a condition called ataxia. Ataxia affects a person’s motor skills and coordination. A person who has ataxia has jerky movements when they walk or when they perform simple tasks. The Miller Center for Peripheral Neuropathy at the University of Chicago estimates that about ten percent of people with Celiac disease have ataxia.
Non Neurological Symptoms Of Celiac Disease
Along with the neurological symptoms, there are other symptoms that can indicate Celiac disease. These symptoms include the following.
- Stomach issues such as gas, cramping, bloating, vomiting, and distention
- Bad smelling or oily stools
- Overall weakness
- Chronic constipation and/or diarrhea
- Change in weight
Celiac disease is hereditary. If you have family members that have a gluten problem, it might be a good idea to get checked out, even if you have no symptoms. In some instances, no symptoms are present. A biopsy can determine if there is any damage to the small intestine. If you suffer from digestion problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, it may be something more. It’s best to get it ruled out so you know for certain. Celiac disease is a scary thing to deal with, especially if you have no idea you have it. Once you’re diagnosed with the disease, you can find relief by changing your diet and sticking to it.