Introduction to Celiac disease and its symptoms

Wheat Field In Newton-St-Loe © Lauren Tucker, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Ibreez Asaria

December 1st, 2018 

February 17th, 2017 was the day I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. Many of you might not know exactly what this condition is, but it has played a major role in my highschool life. I thought it would be interesting to explore this condition further here in this blog post so that the next time you see “gluten-free” in a dietary restrictions list, you know why it’s there. 

What is Celiac disease?

Celiac disease is a condition whereby people have an abnormal immune response in the small intestine as a result of eating foods with gluten in them. Gluten is a protein that can be found in things like barley, rye and wheat. Eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine, and over time, can disrupt nutrient absorption in the body. In other words, eating gluten would damage your intestines which then affects your intake and use of nutrients. It is estimated that 1% of the global population suffers from Celiac disease.

Inflammation of the intestinal mucosa depicting Celiac disease © Scientific Animations, CC BY-SA 4.0 

How Does This Affect Human Functioning?

The intake of gluten causes a variety of symptoms for patients, including: chronic diarrhea, gas and bloating, and weakness. Some patients have even developed more severe conditions such as anemia, osteoporosis, and cases of extreme fatigue and constipation. If patients are not taking dietary/nutrient supplements, they can suffer from weight loss/gain, fatigue, and bone weakness. The damage to the small intestine, which is where 90% of our body’s nutrient absorption takes place, can result in the inability to take in vital nutrients like proteins, minerals, carbohydrates and vitamins, all of which are necessary for healthy bodily function.

A few months before I was officially diagnosed, I experienced many of the symptoms mentioned above, right after eating toast or a slice of cake. I constantly had to go to the washroom, and felt so tired and weak at school that PE class became difficult to participate in. Since being diagnosed, I’ve needed to take iron and Vitamin D supplements every day, in addition to following a gluten-free diet. In fact, I had many of theses symptoms as a child, but to a much lesser degree.  

What causes Celiac disease?

Scientists and researchers are still not entirely sure of what sole factor causes Celiac disease. So far, scientists have seen correlations between certain genes and patients developing Celiac disease. Other things like constantly eating foods with gluten and environmental factors are also related to developing this condition. Scientists even speculate that infant feeding practices, gastrointestinal infections and gut bacteria might contribute to developing this condition as a child.

What Are the Current Treatment Methods?

Presently, there is no permanent cure for Celiac disease, but managing this disease can be done by following a strict gluten-free diet. While this hasn’t been easy for me, it was really the only way I could continue to function normally. By going on a gluten-free diet, I have felt less tired and weak at school, and am able to engage in sports and other activities which I couldn’t do much of before. This diet is something that will follow me for the rest of my life. Thus, while I cannot enjoy donuts from Tim Hortons or the delicious pizza from Domino’s, I can take pride in my commitment to improving my health and my dedication to a strict discipline.

Conclusion

While Celiac disease is a lot more complicated than what is mentioned above, I hope that you have learned something new about how complicated the human body is. People all over the world have unique medical conditions and learning about them is just one of the ways we can expand our knowledge of human life and biology. Having Celiac disease has taught me the importance of discipline and has fuelled my interest in the human anatomy and medicine. With this interest, I hope to pursue medical research on how to treat and prevent this condition in humans moving forward.

Thank you for checking out my blog post! I hope that this post has inspired you to research topics on the human body that interest you.

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