It is also known as celiac disease which is a result of small intestines. Small intestines refer to various proteins found in food such as wheat, rye, oat & barley.
Coeliac disease is a digestive condition in which a person has an adverse reaction to gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats). Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition. People with coeliac disease make antibodies against gluten. Antibodies are proteins in the immune system that normally attack against the infection. These antibodies lead to inflammation developing in the lining of the small intestine.
The tiny, finger-like projections which line the bowel (villi) become inflamed and flattened. This is referred to as villous atrophy. Villous atrophy reduces the surface area of the bowel available for nutrient absorption, which can lead to various gastrointestinal and mal-absorptive symptoms.
Coeliac disease is also known as coeliac sprue, nontropical sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy. Because the body's immune system causes the damage, coeliac disease is considered an autoimmune disorder. It is also classified as a disease of malabsorption.
It is not known exactly why people develop coeliac disease, or why some have mild symptoms while others have severe symptoms. Coeliac disease affects people of all ages, both male and female. Coeliac disease is two to three times higher in women than men and can develop at any age although symptoms are most likely to develop during early childhood. Exactly what causes the immune system to act in this way is still not entirely clear. However, the below factors are known to increase your risk of developing coeliac disease.
- A family member with coeliac disease
- Type 1 diabetes
- Ulcerative colitis
- Down syndrome or Turner syndrome<
- Autoimmune thyroid disease
- Neurological disorders such as epileps
Symptoms of coeliac disease can range from mild to severe, and often come and go. The most common symptom of coeliac disease is diarrhoea, caused by the body not being able to fully absorb nutrients (malabsorption). Malabsorption can also lead to stools containing abnormally high levels of fat (steatorrhoea). This can make them foul smelling, greasy and frothy. They may also be difficult to flush down the toilet.
- Abdominal discomfort
- Bloating and distension of abdomen
- Tiredness and Fatigue
- Weight loss
- Swelling on hands, feet, arms and legs
- Tingling and numbness in your hands and feet
Blood tests; certain blood tests should be performed initially to look for antibodies specific to coeliac disease. Immunoglobulin A (IgA) anti-tissue transglutaminase antibody is the single preferred test for detection of coeliac disease. If abnormally elevated levels of IgA endomysial and anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies are found, a person almost certainly has coeliac disease.
Endoscopy; if your blood tests indicate coeliac disease, your doctor may advise an endoscopy to view your small intestine and to take a small tissue sample (biopsy) to analyze for damage to the villi.