Celiac disease affects about one million Brazilians
The problem is responsible for disorders ranging from malnutrition, weight loss and osteoporosis, to intestinal cancer
Celiac disease is permanent intolerance to gluten, a protein found in foodstuffs like wheat, rye, barley, oats, malt and their derivatives, as well as pastas, pizzas, cakes, cookies/biscuits, beer, whiskey and vodka, among others. In celiacs, the gluten triggers the production of antibodies in the small intestine, which swells the intestinal walls and makes absorption of nutrients difficult.
The symptoms of the disease vary, but the most common ones are chronic diarrhea (more than 30 days), constipation, anemia, loss of appetite, vomiting, slimming, delayed growth or puberty, moodiness, irritability or discouragement and swelling of the stomach. The problem can trigger a series of associated problems, such as hypothyroidism, vitiligo and asthma.
Celiac disease usually arises during childhood, in children between the ages of 1 and 3 years old, but it can arise at any age. The problems appears in those genetically predisposed to the disease, and can be diagnosed using blood tests. However, quite often these are insufficiently conclusive. Nevertheless, the problem can be confirmed by means of endoscopy, with a biopsy of a tissue sample from the small intestine.
For any diagnosis to be effective, it is important to consult a specialist. If the disease is to be controlled, the celiac must be spared food containing gluten.