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Celiac disease is characterized by a persistent, genetically determined intolerance to gluten, the spare protein of wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Many patients do not know that celiac disease is the cause of their ailments, because it often causes symptoms that can be attributed to other conditions.

It is estimated thatceliac disease , also known asceliac disease , affects every hundredth Pole. In patients with celiac disease, eating gluten-containing foods causes inflammation. It destroys the villi of the small intestine - tiny protrusions that cover the mucosa and are tasked with absorbing nutrients. Celiac disease is not a childhood disease that passes after several years of gluten-free diet. Like other autoimmune diseases caused by disorders of the immune system, it accompanies the patient throughout his life. In people who have a genetic predisposition to it, it may appear at any age. However, it is most often diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 50, twice as often in women than in men.

Unusual symptoms of celiac disease

Diarrhea and weight loss were once thought to be the characteristic symptoms of the disease. Meanwhile, celiac disease also causes symptoms from the skin and the nervous, hematopoietic, genitourinary and musculoskeletal systems. In the full-blown form of celiac disease (usually occurs in children, pregnant women, people over 65), there are, among others, abdominal pain, flatulence, recurrent aphthae, muscle weakness, change of temperament and deficiencies related to insufficient absorption of nutrients (e.g. iron, vitamin B12, calcium). In most patients, however, the symptoms of celiac disease are difficult to associate with the digestive system. These are, for example :

  • decreased fertility,
  • constant feeling of fatigue,
  • persistent headaches,
  • joint and muscle pains,
  • dermatitis herpetiformis.

Celiac disease also has a latent form, asymptomatic, which can reveal itself at any moment.


There is no specificity that can be prescribed to patients with celiac disease. Only a gluten-free diet will restore their he alth. You have to watch over it throughout your life, because celiac disease, i.e. gluten intolerance, never goes away. And non-compliance with the diet destroys the small intestine and leads to malnutrition.

Celiac diseaseAre you allergic to gluten?

Symptoms similar to celiac disease also appear in the case of hypersensitivity or allergy to gluten.

  • Allergy, i.e. allergy to gluten , occurs immediately, after a maximum of 2-3 days. The disease is signaled by vomiting, diarrhea, urticaria, runny nose and bronchospasm. The reactions can be very violent (anaphylaxis).
  • Gluten sensitivitymainly affects adults. Gastric symptoms dominate: flatulence, abdominal pain, diarrhea. There may also be pain in the head, joints and muscles. Symptoms appear as quickly as with an allergy. The disease can be diagnosed by ruling out gluten allergy and celiac disease and by improving the well-being after excluding gluten from the diet.

Celiac disease - diagnosis

In order to diagnose celiac disease, blood serological tests are necessary, which enable the detection of specific antibodies: IgA EmA, IgA tTG and GAF. A small intestine biopsy is also needed to assess the degree of villus disappearance. The disease is diagnosed when villi atrophy, the presence of one of the antibodies is present, and when you feel better after switching to a gluten-free diet. In some cases, genetic testing is also performed. If the HLA DQ2 and / or DQ8 genes are missing, 99 percent. this disease can be excluded. But their presence does not necessarily mean it. They occur in about 30 percent. of the population, and the disease develops in only 1%.


Complications of celiac disease

Complications may arise when celiac disease is not treated:

  • absorption disorders: incl. premature osteoporosis, decreased fertility, miscarriages, low birth weight in newborns, underweight and short stature in children, anemia;
  • mental disorders: e.g. irritability, apathy, impatience, sometimes also depressive states;
  • neurological disorders: deterioration of the coordination of movements of the limbs (especially the upper limbs), muscle weakness, epilepsy;
  • increased risk of throat cancer, esophageal cancer, small intestine cancer, lymphomas.

Celiac disease - how to live without gluten

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