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Celiac disease is defined as a chronic disease characterized by malabsorption & diarrhea precipitated by ingestion of food products containing gluten.
It affects 1% in the general population and 5% in high risk groups (eg. first degree relatives of people with the disease), and it is slightly more common in women. Its highest incidence occur during:
- infancy and the initial 36 months of age − secondary to the introduction of food containing gluten;
- between the ages of 20-29 years of age − frequently associated with pregnancy and severe anemia during pregnancy;
- between 50-59 years of age
The most common causes are:
- Sensitivity to gliadin − a protein fraction of gluten found in barley, rye and wheat
The most commonly experienced signs and symptoms of celiac disease are:
- Fatigue, weight loss
- Dermatitis (atopical and herpetiformis)
- Canker sores (aphthous ulcers), angular chelitis
- Sometimes nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain
- In infants and children: weight loss, short stature, failure to thrive and dyspepsia
The following diagnostic tools or results are often used or found to diagnose celiac disease:
- Vitamin B12 deficiency, folic acid deficiency and iron deficiency anemia
- Low calcium, low magnesium
- IgA endomysial antibodies, HLA (human leukocyte antigen) DQ2DQ8 testing
- Endoscopy with small bowel biopsy
- Beers MH & Berkow R (Editors). 1999. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy (17th Ed.). Merck Research Laboratories: Whitehouse Station, NJ.
- Ferri FF. 2007. Ferri’s Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. Mosby Elsevier: Philadelphia, PA.