Wheat IntoleranceCeliac disease is a chronic reaction to certain protein chains, most often gluten which can be found in wheat grains. This reaction causes destruction of the small intestine cells, resulting in malabsorption of nutrients.
However, wheat intolerance should be differentiated from wheat allergy. In the first case it is about the disease, while in second case wheat causes an allergic reaction with well-known symptoms. Allergy to wheat is very rare.
There are clear evidences of a family tendency towards celiac disease. 5-10% of first-order relatives (parents, children, brothers and sisters) of diagnosed celiac patients may develop this disease. The disease affects both sexes and can occur at any age, in infants from the time when the cereals are introduced in the diet and in later age even though the person previously consumed cereals. Development of the disease requires two components: genetic predisposition (two specific genetic markers which are present in over 90% of celiac patients in the U.S.) and some kind of trigger. Triggers can be: the environment (such as excessive exposure to cereals), events (several emotional stresses), physical (such as pregnancy and surgery) and pathological (viral infection).
A long ago it was considered that the wheat intolerance is children's disease that develops in the course of growing up. Latest evidences show that, it is not uncommon that symptoms of celiac disease disappear during adolescence, giving signs of healing. Unfortunately, damage exists even in the sound period, and later in the life patients may show serious damage to the small intestine and reduced absorption of important food ingredients.
Symptoms of Celiac DiseaseThere are no typical symptoms of celiac disease. The scale of symptoms is ranging from not showing symptoms (latent form of the disease) to extreme cases where patients come to the doctor with symptoms, such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and weight loss due to malabsorption.
Between these two extremes there is a wide range of different symptoms such as:
- fatty stools
- abdominal pain
- excessive amount of gas
- all problems related to the deficit of vitamins
- iron deficiency (anemia)
- chronic fatigue
- weight loss
- pain in the bones
- less bone fractures
- abnormally sensitive skin (paresthesia), which involves burning, pricking, tingling or itching skin
- peripheral neuropathy (tingling in the fingers and toes)
- growth retardation
- strife, irritability
- poor concentration
- pain in the stomach followed by painful and less painful bloating
- pain during defecation, abundant and smelly stool
- frequent diarrhea
Another fact that can be added to all this is herpatiformis dermatitis - a disease which includes skin changes, mostly on the head, elbows, knees, buttocks that can be caused by celiac disease.
Reactions after the introduction of gluten can be immediate or deferred for several weeks or months.
There are no two persons who have the same celiac disease symptoms and reactions. A person can have several symptoms listed above, a combination of them, only one of the symptoms or none. There are even cases of obesity as a symptom of celiac disease.
There is no medicine that can be taken in the treatment of celiac disease. Specifically, there is no treatment, but the only chance for people with celiac disease is to lead normal, healthy life adhering to the diet that doesn't contain gluten. That means not using food products containing wheat, rye, barley, oats and other less-known cereals.