Celiac disease (CD) is a common disorder that is estimated to affect about one percent of the population. It is a condition in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by a substance called gluten. Gluten is a group of proteins present in wheat, rye and barley and their cross bred grains. The damage to the intestine can lead to a variety of symptoms and result in an inability of the body to absorb nutrients such as protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, which are necessary for good health.
Patients with CD can present with a variety of symptoms. The classical (typical) symptoms include chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, malabsorption and weight loss. However, many patients now present with non-classical (atypical) symptoms including anemia, osteoporosis, extreme fatigue, oral ulcers, liver enzyme abnormalities, constipation, infertility, dental enamel defects, neurological problems, etc. Children can present with short stature, irritability, vomiting, etc.
Celiac disease occurs commonly in patients with other autoimmune disorders such as thyroid disease and type-I diabetes. It can also run in families, both in first and second degree relatives. Therefore, screening of these high risk individuals should be considered.
Since many patients with CD do not present with classical symptoms, delays in diagnosis can occur.
Dermatitis herpetiformis is “celiac disease” of the skin. The patients present with severely itchy blistering rash. The diagnosis can be confirmed with a skin biopsy. Treatment consists of strict gluten-free diet and, in some cases, medications.
Information taken from; https://www.celiac.ca/gluten-related-disorders/celiac-disease/