Celiac disease, also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is a genetic autoimmune disorder caused due to the body’s inability to process gluten that causes damage to the small intestine. Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, can damage the lining of the small intestine which makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients such as iron, fat, calcium, and folate. The immune system mistakes substances inside gluten to be a threat to the body and attacks them, in turn, causing damage to the bowel surface and hampering the body’s ability to absorb nutrition. Digestion problems, dermatitis herpetiformis, abdominal pain, weight loss, musculoskeletal problems, aphthous ulcers, iron deficiency, stunted growth, tingling sensation in the leg, and missed menstrual cycles are some of the symptoms of celiac disease. The disease can lead to various complications and health problems such as miscarriage or infertility, intestinal cancer, osteoporosis, seizures, gall bladder malfunction, neurological manifestation of the disease, stunted growth in children, and birth defects.
Celiac disease can also lead to various autoimmune diseases such as lupus, thyroid disease, Sjögren’s syndrome, type 1 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. It is difficult to diagnose celiac disease in the initial stages as its symptoms are similar to those of other diseases. Various sensitive and selective blood tests such as anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies with or without IgA level and IgA anti-endomysial antibodies are used to screen the disease.
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