Celiac disease is a condition that affects the digestive system. It inhibits the absorption of nutrients into the body. Foods that are made from grains like wheat, rye and barley contain a protein called gluten. If you are afflicted with celiac disease, every time you consume foods made using these grains it triggers a reaction in your small intestine. This reaction damages the villi, which are tiny protrusions lining the small intestine. As a result the capacity of the small intestine to absorb nutrients is severely hampered. It has been found that celiac disease and type 1 diabetes have certain genetic traits in common and there are more chances of type 1 diabetics having celiac disease and vice versa. It would be better if we are aware of vital signs of celiac disease with Type 1 diabetes and its effects.
The immune system attacks the insulin producing beta cells which results in the body losing the insulin producing capabilities. This is the major cause of the Type 1 diabetes. Insulin is a vital hormone for the body that permits glucose to be converted into energy for activities of the body. The connection between celiac disease and Type 1 diabetes goes beyond autoimmunity and diet. Diabetics with Type 1 diabetes, there are about 5% who may be found having celiac disease. It is often a case where diabetes is diagnosed first as its symptoms are noticed first.
There are no specific vital signs of celiac disease with Type 1 diabetes. However those with diabetes are at risk for digestive problems caused due to nerve damage to the gastrointestinal tract called as gastroparesis. It involves the intestines, where the nerves that make villi to move food along can be damaged, and may also affect the stomach, where the damage can cause incomplete mixing of food. There may be delayed emptying into the small intestine, incomplete absorption of food, nausea and vomiting. However, gastroparesis is not reversible with diet but may improve with strict control of the blood sugar.
Some other symptoms that may be seen are hyperglycemia, weight loss which is a common feature of Type 1 diabetes as well as celiac disease, extreme thirst, excessive urination with unmetabolized sugar and proteins, bad breath and the lack of insulin in the blood. Symptoms related to celiac disease may not be obvious at all but includes mild weakness, bone pain, chronic diarrhea and abdominal bloating. There could be added feeling of weakness and fatigue. Among children you may find delayed growth, delayed puberty, irritability, behavioral changes, vomiting, dental enamel abnormalities.
It has been seen that diagnosis of gluten sensitivity in a person with Type I diabetes helps manage diabetes better. As the intestine heals on gluten-free diet, the absorption rate of food becomes more predictable, and insulin requirements increases as more carbohydrate is absorbed. Those with diabetes and gluten sensitivity need to be treated with gluten-free diet to help them achieve better control of their blood sugar.
Because of the severe implications of the disease and occurrence in children with insulin dependent diabetes it is very important to undertake routine tests. As celiac disease is hereditary, other family member need to be aware of the various signs and symptoms and undertake tests for the disease. Timely treatment can help keep the disease in control for a healthier life.
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