Research shows, that an estimated 15% of the worlds population across all races, ages and genders suffer from celiac or mild gluten intolerance. It is estimated that 85% of people who have celiac disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions.
What is Celiac disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. It is a severe sudden onset allergic reaction to the protein called gluten. This is commonly found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley and oats. Since this is a disease of malabsorption, one of the most devastating symptoms of long-term undiagnosed celiac disease is malnutrition.
What is Gluten Intolerance?
Gluten intolerance has more or less a similar range of symptoms and causes as celiac disease but it is much harder to diagnose due to a slower onset.
What are the symptoms of Gluten Intolerance and Celiac disease?
The symptoms of gluten intolerance and celiac disease can be varied, and not every person will experience the same symptoms.
- Nutritional deficiencies due to malabsorption e.g. low iron levels
- Gastrointestinal problems (bloating, pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea)
- Aching joints
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Slow infant and child growth
- Decline in dental health
- Head aches
- Fat in the stools
- Irritability and behavioral changes
- Infertility, irregular menstrual cycle and miscarriage
- Cramps, tingling and numbness
How to avoid Gluten products?
To avoid getting sick from gluten, you should always read labels from every product you buy in the shop. You can also find gluten free products in health food stores marked as gluten free products. But the best way, if you have the time for it, is to make everything from scratch at home, so there can be no mistake at all with what you eat.
Difference between Celiac disease and Gluten intolerance
Since gluten intolerance has a slower onset than celiac disease, it is more difficult to diagnose due to a broad range of symptoms and causes. The symptoms are usually more severe with immediate autoimmune reactions.
Many people with celiac disease will not show any symptoms, but their health can erode over many years due to malabsorption and malnutrition. Celiac disease and gluten intolerance can be triggered by many factors like: surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, infection and really often by emotional stress. Celiac disease can also lead to a number of other disorders including infertility, reduced bone density, neurological disorders, some cancers, and other autoimmune diseases.
For a doctor it is a serious challenge to diagnose both, due to a very broad spectrum of symptoms which can dramatically vary from person to person.