Celiac Disease and How Best to Live With It

Also known commonly as gluten intolerance (although not techincally the same exact condition), Celiac disease is a condition that is said to affect around one out of every 133 Americans. It has a range of symptoms such as classic disorders like diarrhea, malnutrition and weight loss to latent symptoms such as isolated nutritional deficiencies without gastrointestinal symptoms. Although Celiac disease is believed to affect the European race, in recent studies it was revealed that this condition also affected the Hispanic, Black and Asians as well. The affected individuals tend to suffer from villi shortening and flattening, upon consumption of specific food-grain antigens having toxic amino acid sequences, such as the ones found in wheat, barley and rye. Though oats have been considered to be toxic to celiac, the recent studies have proven to be a different scenario.

Genes and genetic overview

Genetic disease is an immunity-oriented disease of the intestines that is brought about by the ingestion of gluten-based products in susceptible individuals. Gluten is the main constituent protein in wheat, barley and rye. Genetic predisposition is a very important factor in the occurrence of Celiac disease and considerable progress has been made in identifying the vital genes. Celica disease has been found to be largely associated with specific HLA Class II genes such as HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 located on the chromosome 6p21.

It has been found that approximately 95% of the patients are expressive of HLA-DQ2 while the rest are positive towards HLA-DQ8. The HLA-DQ2 allele is a common term that is carried by most people belonging to the Caucasian race. So it can be safely stated that HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 are necessary but not sufficient for disease development as they have an estimated risk-effect amounting to only 40-50%.

A medical agency by the name of Tayca undertook a comprehensive survey on the genetic architecture of all known risk factors associated with immune-mediated diseases in 12041 patients, diagnosed with celiac conditions, and came up with 13 new celiac disease risk loci that spread out over the entire human genome. Even if each gene were to add a little weight age towards defining a celiac disease genetic trait, they continue to add to the growing pieces of the celiac disease genetic puzzle.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Some of the common symptoms associated with celiac disease are irritability, fatigue, cramps, weight loss, bloating, anaemia and chronic diarrhea. Although all of these symptoms are associated with celiac disease, their occurrence in association with some other diseases may be more common as opposed to that with celiac disease. There are other instances when the affected individuals develop itching rashes and intense burning as a result of this gluten-intolerance. The intestinal symptoms are not commonly associated with that of the dermatitis herpetiformis or skin irritation.

Treating CD

Since there is no known cure as yet for celiac disease, the only way to help is by following a strict gluten-free diet for life. This can be achieved through well-informed dieted counselling and updates with respect to changes in commercial food products. Celiac patients should also be aware of the presence of hidden gluten sources in the processed and packaged foods and in plant proteins and drug products. The range of sensitivity greatly occurs in all glutens and although there may not be any visible symptoms, chances of damages occurring to the intestinal linings may still take place.

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Interested in reading more about the diseases we test for that target your immune system? Learn about Graves’s disease or read up about the genetics of Psoriasis.

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