Causes and Symptoms

Published on Saturday, 23 June 2012 22:06

Gluten intolerance occurs when the body cannot digest gliadin (a protein) and other proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and other grains in those that are genetically predisposed. In a gluten intolerant individual, digesting gluten actually damages their intestines and prevents the body from absorbing vital nutrients. The lining of the small intestine is covered with villa, tiny hair-like projections that help the body absorb vitamins and nutrients from food. When gluten is consumed, the inability to digest gluten damages the villa by smoothing them along the surface of the intestine.

Because there is a genetic component, people who suspect they may have Celiac disease should obtain a complete family history. 

Intermittent diarrhea
Abdominal pain
Stomach upset
Joint pain
Muscle cramps
Itchy, dry skin
Mouth sores
Bone disorders
Neuropathy (tingling in legs and feet)

Symptoms of malnutrition from celiac disease:
Weight loss
Weakness, fatigue
Osteoporosis (loss of bone density)
Stools may be gray, fatty, oily
Stunted growth
Abdominal cramps, bloating, gas

Conditions related to Gluten intolerance:
Deficiency in B-12, folate, and iron
Loss of calcium and vitamin D leading to osteoporosis, osteomalacia (softening of the bone, also called rickets), oxalate stone (certain type of kidney stone) 
Lactose intolerance
Cancer (at greater risk if gluten free diet is not followed)
Neurological complications (celiac disease is also associated with seizures and nerve damage)