Celiac disease (CD) is a permanent intolerance to gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and all related grains (bulgur, durum, einkorn, semolina, spelt, kamut, triticale, and faro) rye, barley and regular commercial oats.
Gluten consumption causes damage to the absorptive surface of the small intestine and can result in malnutrition, anemia and nutritional deficiencies. It can also increase risk of other autoimmune diseases and some cancers of the gut.
Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH) is a non-gastrointestinal manifestation of celiac which is characterized by blistering, intensely itchy skin. The rash has a symmetrical distribution and is most frequently found on elbows, knees, buttocks, back of next, scalp and upper back. People with dermatitis herpetiformis can have gastrointestinal damage without obvious symptoms.
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
The term Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (N-CGS) is used to describe the clinical state of individuals who develop symptoms when they consume gluten-containing foods and feel better on a Gluten-Free Diet (GFD), but these individuals do not have celiac disease.
A gluten-free diet should not be started before the blood tests and biopsis are done, since it can interfere with making an accurate diagnosis.
The number and severity of symptoms associated with untreated celiac disease can vary greatly from person to person. In some cases, adults with undiagnosed celiac disease have only iron deficiency anemia without digestive or intestinal symptoms. In some cases the symptoms are less obvious. Take a look at this infographic from the Canadian Celiac Associations.
For more information about celiac disease and the gluten-free diet, please visit CCA’s National website.