This disease is also known as celiac sprue, and most people would automatically know what it means when we say it is about gluten sensitivity. It is the reason why there are so many gluten-free products in the market, and it is medically known as gluten-sensitive enteropathy. It is a chronic digestive problem featuring intolerance to a fraction of gluten called gliadin. Since gluten is a protein from wheat that is also common in barley and rye, these patients should not eat products containing these ingredients and may be affected when cooking tools are contaminated with gluten products and then used to prepare their foods.
When trying to digest gliadin, the gastrointestinal system of people with celiac disease undergoes a series of inflammatory responses in the gut mucosa that impairs the normal absorptive function of the intestines and leads to several digestive symptoms and even nutrient deficiency syndromes. These signs and symptoms typically result from eating foods containing gluten, and they are improved when these ingredients are removed from the diet.
The most common signs and symptoms to detect celiac disease are as follows:
It is the most common symptom, affecting up to 85% of patients with celiac disease. It is controlled when patients stop eating gluten meals, and it is caused by impaired digestion of nutrients. The stools can be watery, but sometimes they are rather doughy and light-colored. They are usually oily with a foul odor because it is a malabsorption problem that involves fat and many other nutrients. The excessive fat in the stools are kept in the large bowel, and the gut bacteria start producing substances called hydroxy fatty acids, which drags water along to the intestines and leads to watery or oily diarrhea, which is clinically named as steatorrhea.
Diarrhea due to celiac disease is more abundant in young children, infants, and older adults. In these patients, it usually leads to dehydration, and patients may require intravenous therapy to prevent metabolic acidosis and electrolyte problems.
Another possible cause of diarrhea in these patients is microscopic colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. In these cases, diarrhea is the result of an inflammatory reaction that leads to increased blood flow in the intestines and increase of permeability in the small blood vessels, leading to a continuous leak of plasma into the intestines, and promoting several other health problems associated with nutrient deficiency.