What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is a long-term autoimmune disorder triggered by a specific agent: gluten. The immune system of a celiac sufferer does not function correctly and exposure to gluten triggers an abnormal immune response.
Nowadays, celiac disease is considered a systemic process; that is, it triggers a wide variety of symptoms and associated pathological processes, which may be related to digestion or to gynaecological, bone-related and dermatological issues, etc.
It’s important to point out that celiac disease only occurs in genetically predisposed people. It can occur at any age and some celiac sufferers may have no noticeable symptoms, although the ingestion of gluten also harms their digestive system.
Who does it affect?
It’s calculated that the incidence of celiac disease in Europe is 1 out of every 100 inhabitants, which makes it the most prevalent genetic condition in the Western world. The fact that it’s difficult to diagnose means that 85% of cases go undiagnosed. That’s why doctors often say that you don’t come across celiac sufferers; you have to seek them out.
What treatment is prescribed?
As we’ve explained, celiac disease is a chronic disease. It has no cure but can be controlled by adopting a strict gluten-free diet for life. No treatment currently exists other than ceasing to consume cereals that contain gluten and restricting one’s diet to certified gluten-free foods, along with naturally gluten-free food such as meat, fish, eggs and milk.