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Celiac Disease Prevalence Remains Unknown

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Celiac Disease Prevalence Remains Unknown

According to an article published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, although celiac disease is common, the prevalence of this disease is actually unknown .Celiac disease is a chronic intestinal disease characterized by atrophy   the villi and malabsorption. Removing gluten from the diet is both therapeutic and diagnostic test because symptoms disappear as soon as gluten is eliminated. In fact, it is not gluten that causes celiac disease, but a toxic protein from gluten, gliadin.

In celiac disease there is an abnormal immune response against wheat gliadin or against other proteins in rye, barley, oats. Although according to the Mayo Clinic-led analysis, 1.8 million  Americans have celiac disease , but the total number of people suffering from this disease is unknown. There are described three clinical forms of celiac disease: symptomatic celiac disease (atrophy of the villi and clinical manifestations), silent celiac disease (atrophy of the villi without clinical manifestations) and latent celiac disease.Regarding the cause of the disease , there were incriminated environmental factors (gliadin, etc), genetic and immunological factors. In children, celiac disease is manifested by vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal distention, muscle weakness, etc.

Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease

In adults, the most common manifestation is diarrhea. Because of malabsorption, osmotic diarrhea leads to fat feces. Diarrhea is of course accompanied by flatulence and abdominal distension. Sometimes abdominal pain can occur. Also, because of malabsorption, nutritional deficiencies may appear. Due to malabsorption of bile salts , there is a vitamin deficiency, ie A, D, E, K. Therefore, there may be numbness, muscle cramps, tetany, bleeding (epistaxis, bruising), vision problems, infertility,  anemia. Also, peripheral edema and ascites may occur, weight loss, glossitis etc.

Celiac disease can be misdiagnosed , especially when symptoms are vague or when they occur in children. Celiac disease can be confused with certain diseases caused by parasites , like  Giardia or Strongiloides. It also can be mistaken for other diseases that cause malabsorption, such as Crohn’s disease, Whipple’s disease or eosinophilic gastroenteritis. Diagnosing celiac disease is very important because removing gluten from the diet results in complete relief of symptoms. There are situations where patients do not respond to treatment, ie the removal of gluten from the diet. These patients have the so-called refractory celiac disease. In addition, it is good to know that celiac disease causes some complications that may worsen the health of the patient. One complication is ulcerative jejuno-ileitis, characterized by abdominal pain and gastrointestinal bleeding . Another important complication is intestinal lymphoma.

Researchers have tried to find out what is the prevalence of the disease with blood tests and interviews from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  co-author Joseph Murray, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, says: “There are a lot of people on a gluten-free diet, and it’s not clear what the medical need for that is.