Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune condition that affects around 1 in 100 people worldwide. It is manifested by damaging the small intestine when gluten is ingested.

What is gluten and where is it found?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat (القمح), rye (الجاودار), and barley (الشعير).
Practically speaking, it’s available in regular bread, toast, cookies, cake, pasta, pizza. There’s also a high chance of finding gluten in products like: Ketchup, sauces and dressings, chocolate bars, potato chips, rice cakes.

What are the symptoms?
Celiac disease can show up at any age.
Symptoms usually vary between individuals, and the disease might also be silent (asymptomatic). Commons symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating and flatulence
  • Indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Unexpected weight loss

How is celiac disease diagnosed?
A biopsy of the small intestine is usually the recommended way for the diagnosis. The procedure is not complicated. The doctor will insert a scope through the mouth and down to the esophagus, stomach and small intestine (while you are sedated for 15–20 min). A few duodenal samples will be extracted for lab examination.

It is also worth noting that blood tests can be performed (such as IgA-tTG) as a first step before proceeding to the biopsy. The patient should be eating a normal gluten-containing diet at the time of the test.

Is there a treatment?
At the time being, the only recommended treatment is to follow a lifelong –strict– GF diet.

Should I worry about my family?
This disease is hereditary. If you develop it, there’s a 1 in 10 chance your first-degree relatives (parent, child, sibling) will develop it too.

Celiac Disease and Lactose Intolerance — there might be a link. Read more here.

Celiac Disease in Lebanon — A comprehensive guide will be posted soon, stay tuned.

Recommended readings
If you would like to learn more about this topic, I strongly recommend checking out the below websites:

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