Celiac disease often remains undetected
Gluten intolerance is a common complaint, but it often remains undetected for a long time. Because the spectrum of possible symptoms is extremely broad and often these are not associated with celiac disease.
The possible signs of celiac disease can be very diverse and "range from typical digestive problems such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating or flatulence to hormone disorders, unfulfilled desire to have children, lack of care and psychological symptoms", according to the current report from the University Hospital Leipzig (UKL). The suspicion therefore sometimes does not arise from gluten intolerance. The diagnosis of celiac disease is particularly difficult if only one of the symptoms is present, explains Professor Dr. Albrecht Hoffmeister, Senior Consultant in Interdisciplinary Endoscopy and Sonography at the UKL.
Celiac disease can affect everyone
Celiac disease is a food intolerance that is characterized by a hypersensitive reaction to certain cereal components - the gluten protein -. Professor Hoffmeister explains that gluten can be found in many types of grain, but mainly in wheat, i.e. the grain that we as Central Europeans consume the most and which is contained in almost all industrially manufactured foods. Celiac disease can affect everyone and "more people have celiac disease than you think," continued Hoffmeister. Experts believe that up to one percent of the population suffer from gluten intolerance.
Chameleon of medicine
The disease often remains undetected for a long time due to the non-specific complaints, reports the UKL. "If a patient has depression, for example, there is no immediate suspicion of food intolerance," explains Prof. Hoffmeister. And celiac disease has many faces, which is why it is often referred to in specialist circles as the "clown of medicine" or "chameleon". If the disease remains undetected, this can lead to an increased risk of tumors or deficiency symptoms such as osteoporosis, the expert warns.
Lifelong gluten free diet
So far, the exact cause of celiac disease remains unclear, but it is known that there is a genetic predisposition to this type of gluten intolerance, according to the UKL. If there is a specific suspicion, a tissue sample can be taken from the duodenum by gastroscopy and a blood test can be carried out to confirm the diagnosis. Once the diagnosis has been made, the only therapy option so far is a lifelong gluten-free diet. "Celiac disease is not curable. But if you eat consistently gluten-free, the complaints go away in 99 percent of the cases and you have a normal life expectancy like any other person, ”emphasizes Prof. (fp)