I remember when my son, Mannat, was diagnosed with Celiac, zillions of friends and family members told me that it was all in my mind and he’ll get out of it soon. Many advised me to try homeopathy, naturopathy, reiki and the list goes on. The truth is that the lack of knowledge is the biggest danger for a parent or an adult who is suffering from Celiac disease. Remember that awareness and knowledge are the best ways to handle any problem rather than closing your eyes and living in denial.
Celiac – An Autoimmune Disease
To be able to understand Celiac disease, we must first learn about autoimmune diseases.
To make it simple, if your family has any of these 80 different types of autoimmune diseases, you are likely to inherit any of them, including Celiac disease.
Diagnosis of Celiac Disease
Celiac disease can develop at any age after people start eating foods or medicines that contain gluten. If left untreated, celiac disease can lead to serious health problems. These include the development of other autoimmune disorders like Type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis (MS), dermatitis herpetiformis (an itchy skin rash), anaemia, osteoporosis, infertility and miscarriage, neurological conditions like epilepsy and migraines, short stature, and intestinal cancers.
Celiac Disease is a chronic autoimmune disease, which means that you cannot “grow out” of it. Only solution is lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. People living a gluten-free life must avoid foods with wheat, rye and barley, such as bread and beer. Ingesting even small amounts of gluten, like crumbs from a cutting board or toaster, can trigger its symptoms leading to damage of the small intestine. Some of the common symptoms are gas, bloating, change in bowel movements, weight loss, lethargy and weakness.
Early diagnosis is a blessing. When Mannat was diagnosed, he was only five-years old. Some of the symptoms were: his shoe size didn’t increase through the year (normally every child’s shoe size changes in every three months), he was biting his nails, was going to the pot three to four times a day, and gaining height but his weight hadn’t increased in a whole year. The doctor had de-wormed him three times already and after that I was advised to take him for blood tests.
Celiac disease testing requires several serologic (blood) tests but the most commonly used is called a tTG (a tissue transglutaminase)-IgA test (measures antibodies in the blood). If test results suggest celiac disease, your doctor will recommend a biopsy of your small intestine to confirm the diagnosis.
IMPORTANT: For diagnosis of Celiac disease, you must NOT already be on a gluten-free diet. If you are on a gluten-free diet, CDF’s medical experts recommend a “Gluten Challenge” – daily consumption of gluten equivalent to at least four slices of bread for one to three months followed by an endoscopic biopsy with no serology testing.
Aarti Sarin Jain is an avid baker and runs an exclusive gluten-free test kitchen. She discovered the joys of a gluten-free living after her elder kid was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. She often experiments with new forms and varieties of gluten-free food without compromising either on taste or quality. You can read more on her blog, www.bakingfrommyheart.com
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