Can You Develop Celiac?

Also known as gluten-sensitive enteropathy or celiac sprue, celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder which will cause damages to the lining of small intestines when eating foods containing gluten. Damaged intestines would make it difficult for the body to absorb calcium, folate, iron, fat and other nutrients. Many people think that if you didn't have celiac disease in childhood, you will never develop it. Is it true? Let's find out more about it.

Can You Develop Celiac?

Yes, it is possible to develop this disease at any age. Even if you have been tested negative in the past, you can still develop this intestinal disorder. It is important to have some more tests done when you doubt you have celiac. Your doctor would ask for blood tests for gluten autoantibodies or they might order a small bowel biopsy to assess the damage to your intestines.

Factors Contributing to the Development of Celiac Disease

Some factors play a big role in increasing the risk of developing celiac disease. 

  • Family history: Can you develop celiac because of a family history? Yes, celiac disease runs in families, which means you are more likely to develop it if your parents or siblings already have it. The risk increases by 10% for people with a family history, and the risk goes up to 75% when you have an identical twin with celiac disease. Mutation of a group of genes called the HLA-DQ genes are responsible for this disease.
  • Environmental factors: You may develop celiac disease because of certain environmental factors, such as an infection of the digestive system in early childhood. Similarly, you increase your baby's risk of developing this disease if you include gluten in the diet before he or she reaches six months old. The risk goes up when your baby has gluten in the diet and you do not breastfeed him or her.
  • Other health conditions: Can you develop celiac due to certain diseases? You may develop celiac disease if you already have certain health conditions, such as type-1 diabetes or ulcerative colitis. Besides, people with neurological disorders such as epilepsy are at a greater risk of developing celiac.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

The symptoms of celiac disease may vary depending on your age. For instance:

Symptoms for Infants and Children

Symptoms for Teenagers

Symptoms for Adults

  • Slow growth
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss
  • Diarrhea with blood
  • Vomiting
  • Cramping and abdominal pain
  • Chronic constipation
  • Low energy
  • Irritability
  • Malnourishment
  • Late puberty
  • Growth problems
  • Pain in the abdominal region
  • Inability to gain weight
  • Tiredness
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Mouth sores
  • Joint pain
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Osteoporosis
  • Anemia
  • Arthritis
  • Seizures
  • Erratic menstrual periods
  • Mouth sores
  • Tingling sensation and numbness in feet or hands
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis

Treatments for Celiac Disease

Can you develop celiac? The answer is yes. Then is there any treatment? Unfortunately, there is no treatment available for celiac disease. But there are something you can do to avoid complications. You need to stick with a gluten-free diet. Here are a few things to bear in mind.

  • Say no to anything made from rye, wheat, and barley. You have to avoid cereals, breads, crackers, pasta, cookies, pies, cakes, and gravies too.
  • Do not eat oats. Even though some people can still tolerate oats after they develop celiac, you will be better off eliminating them from your diet. Oat preparations may be contaminated with wheat and cause a serious reaction in people with celiac.
  • Avoid processed foods with gluten. Do not opt for anything that includes wheat flour as an ingredient. Those include candy bars, salad dressings, canned soups, yogurt, pasta, ketchup, mustard, instant coffee and processed or canned meats.
  • Avoid capsules, tablets, and vitamin preparations that may contain gluten. Many capsules and tablets use wheat starch, so you have to avoid them. Some cosmetic products may also contain gluten, so choose carefully.
  • Do not drink beer. Beer is made from barley that contain gluten. You can, however, drink alcohols without barley, such as brandy, wine, whiskey, etc. Just be sure to drink in moderation.
  • Do not consume milk and dairy products that may have lactose. If you have celiac disease, you are more likely to be lactose intolerant. Do not consume these foods before receiving treatments for celiac disease.
  • Always read the product labels before you buy anything. Even if you have bought something before, check the label when buying it again to ensure the manufacturer has not changed the ingredients.
  • Take supplements. People with celiac are easy to develop mineral and vitamin deficiencies, so ask your doctor about ways to supply your nutrition. They may give you multivitamins and mineral supplements. It is also important to take vitamin D and calcium supplements when you have osteoporosis along with celiac.

Note: Keep in mind that some adults may have a nonfunctional spleen due to celiac disease. If that is the case, you should work closely with your doctor to lower the risk for developing pneumococcal infection. Getting vaccinated is important in this case. 

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