Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic
Celiac disease is a condition where an individual is intolerant to gluten for life. Gluten is a protein found in cereals like wheat, oats, barley, rye, and some others.
PREVALENCE OF CELIAC DISEASE
Celiac disease occurs globally, at any age. 25% cases diagnosed in patients relate to those over 60 years of age.
Fairly common in the West with 1 in 100 people in Europe and 1 in 133 people in the US.
Data in India is still not available, but according to estimates, 1% of Indian population seems to be suffering from celiac disease.
Founder of the CELIAC Society of Delhi, Nutritionist Ishi Khosla says eating foods with gluten causes an immune reaction in the small intestines that can damage the lining of the intestines thus leading to lower absorption of essential nutrients, mal-absorption of foods and nutritional deficiencies.
TYPICAL SYMPTOMS OF CELIAC DISEASE
Diarrhea, gastrointestinal disturbances like abdominal distension, flatulence, pain, Constipation, Nausea, Vomiting, Growth problems- stunting, Anemia. Not everyone presents with these. Infact, only 50% cases may present with diarrhea.
Other symptoms of the CELIAC disease could be weight loss, lethargy, and tiredness, bone problems like osteoporosis and cramps, skin problems, Infertility, mouth ulcers, numbness and behavior problems like depression, anxiety, and irritability including poor performance at school by children.
Nutritionist Ishi Khosla says people with hidden celiac disease are more in danger as they are at a higher risk of developing severe form of malnutrition, non-specific ill health which if remained unnoticed can prove fatal.
CELIAC disease can increase the risk to disorders like Type-1 diabetes mellitus, autoimmune diseases, Liver diseases, Thyroid disorders, pulmonary diseases such as asthma, Ulcerative colitis, Cohn’s disease, and Cancer in some cases.
Absence of typical symptoms makes the diagnosis difficult and often leads to ill health and life threatening maladies. Diagnosis is done using Serological markers (blood tests) and Endoscopy.
MANAGEMENT OF CELIAC DISEASE
Celiac Disease is a permanent condition and requires life long strict restriction to gluten along with nutritional supplements to correct deficiencies. Gluten free diet usually helps restore normal health.
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