Almost three out of four people with celiac disease do not know that they suffer from this digestive disorder, and not following a gluten-free diet can seriously damage their health. Know how to identify it and what foods you should avoid.
The celiac disease or celiac disease is a chronic disease of the digestive tract of immunological origin, characterized by a permanent intolerance to a protein called gluten, which is present in cereals (wheat, oats, barley or rye). When the patient ingests foods containing gluten, the lining of the small intestine is injured, which reduces its ability to absorb nutrients. Without treatment, people affected by this disorder suffer malnutrition and various associated diseases, but not all people suffering from this disease have symptoms and, therefore, can go unnoticed for a long time.
Any ingested food undergoes a process of digestion that serves to degrade the food into smaller particles so that they can then be absorbed. The absorption of these particles is done in the small intestine and, for this to happen, the existence of villi, which are like very small roots that hang inside the intestine, is necessary. When the length of the villus is reduced, absorption is shortened, which results in poor nutrition. This is what happens in celiac disease, in which there is a reduction in the size of the intestinal villi as a result of gluten intolerance.
The frequency with which celiac disease occurs in approximately 1 in every 200/300 births, although experts warn that this condition is underdiagnosed and that less than a quarter of celiacs know they have the disease. In fact, it is currently estimated that the prevalence of this entity is around 1% of the population. It can affect children as well as adults, although sometimes the clinical manifestations may be different in one stage than in another.
People with Down syndrome have a hundred times greater risk than the rest of the population of suffering from gluten intolerance. Likewise, the probability that a celiac patient has first degree relatives with the same problem is 5-15%. Given its immunological nature, it is usually associated with other disorders such as autoimmune thyroiditis, diabetes mellitus or immunodeficiencies such as IgA deficiency.
Although it is a disease with good prognosis in general, there is currently no curative treatment for celiac disease. The withdrawal of gluten makes the symptoms disappear, but not the sensitivity to it. A high index of suspicion is very important to be able to initiate the pertinent studies and arrive at an early diagnosis to avoid long-term complications.