If the diagnosis of celiac disease is confirmed, a gluten-free diet should be followed for life.Dr. med. Mira SeidelArticle overviewCeliac disease
- Causes and risk factors
- Examinations and diagnosis
- Disease course and prognosis
Celiac disease: short overview
- description: Overreaction of the immune system to the gluten gluten and an endogenous enzyme that cleaves it; Inflammation of the small intestinal mucosa; Deficiency symptoms due to inferior nutrient uptake.
- symptoms: occur after eating gluten-rich foods: abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, often atypical discomfort.
- treatment: gluten-free diet, no wheat, barley, rye, greens, etc., compensation for deficiencies, so far no causal therapy.
- diagnosis: Celiac disease test: detection of antibodies in the blood, biopsy of the small intestinal mucosa, self-tests provide insufficient results.
- Progonose: Left untreated, complications such as lactose intolerance or cancers in the gastrointestinal tract may develop.
What is celiac disease?
In celiac disease, the small intestine becomes inflamed. Guilt is the immune system. It classifies the actually harmless gluten gluten as dangerous and responds as soon as patients absorb gluten from food. This is found in many cereals such as wheat, rye, barley, spelled or greens. And also a body-own substance calls the immune system of celiac disease patients on the plan: the enzyme tissue transglutaminase. It splits the gluten in healthy people.
Because gluten and tissue transglutaminase are located on the intestinal mucosa, it is inflamed by attacks of the immune system. Over time, the mucous membrane is so severely damaged by the chronic inflammation that the food can no longer be absorbed normally into the blood via the intestine. Normally, the intestinal mucosa is wrinkled, forming so-called villi. This structure enlarges the surface of the intestine. This has the advantage that the food components can pass more quickly from the intestine into the blood. In celiac disease, the autoantibodies destroy these protuberances. The result: It can lead to severe deficiency symptoms, because less surface is available for nutrient absorption.This is how the intestinal villi change in celiac diseaseIn celiac disease, the intestinal mucosa becomes inflamed. As a result, the intestinal villi are destroyed and the mucosal surface available for ingestion decreases.
Allergy or autoimmune disease?
Whether celiac disease is an allergy or an autoimmune disease, experts also argue. The fact is: celiac disease has both elements of an allergy and an autoimmune disease.
An allergy is generally an excessive reaction of the immune system to actually harmless substances. This is the case with celiac disease, as the immune system reacts to the actually harmless gluten with an excessive immune response.
On the other hand, the immune system in celiac disease but also forms antibodies against the body's own enzyme tissue transglutaminase. Since in celiac disease the immune system also attacks the body's own structures, the definition of an autoimmune disease is thus fulfilled for the gluten allergy. According to current knowledge, celiac disease is most likely a hybrid of allergy and autoimmune disease. However, the term gluten allergy has not prevailed in science and should therefore rather be avoided.