Celiac disease is a digestive disorder caused by an intolerance to gluten, a protein found in some grains: barley, oats, wheat, rye ... It is an autoimmune disease that can affect both children and adults. The presence of an enzyme allowing for the chemical reactions, in excess, leads to the destruction of the cells of the small intestine and other specific reactions. This results in the poor absorption of certain nutrients provided by food, including gluten.
Symptoms vary depending on whether the disease occurs in children or adults. The symptoms experienced are:
- in infants and young children: symptoms appear after the ingestion of gluten-containing foods, typically in the form of diarrhea, fatigue and abdominal pain. When evaluating growth curves, a break in the trend is noticed.
- In adults: there are often no symptoms, but abdominal pain and diarrhea are not atypical.
To confirm the diagnosis, a blood analysis can reveal the presence of antibodies specific to the disease. Often, the use of an endoscopy, a camera to visualize the inside of the small intestine, is necessary: an upper gastrointestinal duodenal endoscopy. It shows the presence of characteristic signs and allows for biopsies.
Treatment is based on the total avoidance of foods containing gluten. Many food products, including those for infants, are now available gluten free. There is no other treatment for celiac disease. The patient must also make sure to ask for gluten-free menus when he dines outside or when traveling. It can be constraining at all times.