Facts You Probably Don’t Know About Celiac Disease

wheat field

You read about it or heard about it, but how much do you know about celiac disease? Are you a likely candidate? To know the answers, read these five facts about the condition:

1. It Runs in the Family

Many people know that celiac disease is an autoimmune condition. It means the body’s immune system attacks the small intestine as a response to gluten, a protein found in wheat.

What many are not aware of is it is inherited or genetic. A comprehensive report by the University of Chicago Medicine revealed that at least 1 out of 22 people with celiac would have first-degree relatives with the same condition.

Meanwhile, about 1 in every 39 individuals will have uncles and aunts with celiac disease. The gene variants called HLA-DQ8 and HLA-DQ2 increase a person’s susceptibility to the disease.

2. It’s Not As Prevalent in Utah

Utah is one of the states with a low prevalence of celiac disease. One of the reasons is the popularity of the gluten-free diet. Nevertheless, knowing one of the family members has celiac disease demands a clinical investigation. Tests such as endoscopy in Lehi can help diagnose it.

In this procedure, a gastroenterologist inserts a flexible tube with a camera inside the throat toward the gastrointestinal tract. The camera can provide real-time imaging and capture photos.

This process takes less than 30 minutes to complete and doesn’t have downtime.

3. It Can Affect Other Organs

Celiac disease is a condition that affects the small intestine, but it can also manifest outside the organ. For example, it can cause an elevation of liver enzymes.

Usually, these levels decrease or return to normal once you stop eating gluten for some time. If the disease remains untreated, it can increase the odds of liver injury or illness. These can include cirrhosis or the scarring of the organ.

4. Celiac Disease Is Different From Gluten Intolerance or Sensitivity

Many people confuse gluten intolerance or sensitivity to celiac disease. The symptoms, after all, can be similar. These include bloating, abdominal pain, and even joint pain.

The difference between the two is the effect of gluten on the body. A person intolerant to the protein can experience only short-term symptoms. Those with celiac disease are predisposed to other autoimmune conditions such as thyroiditis. They are also prone to anemia, which results in severe feelings of fatigue.

5. Many People Remain Undiagnosed

Despite the prevalence of celiac disease, about 80% remain undiagnosed. In certain situations, they don’t know they have this condition until they experience other symptoms. One of these is low bone density. Their levels can still be low even if they consume enough calcium.

Just because you have the genes doesn’t mean you’ll eventually develop the disease. As long as you stay away from gluten, you can avoid the complications. You can even reverse the condition or manage the symptoms.

You’ll never know what to do, though, unless you go through screening or testing. This is especially necessary if you know a relative with celiac.

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