Deccan Chronicle

Gluten Intolerance: A rising problem

Deccan Chronicle.| Swati Sharma

Published on: April 14, 2022 | Updated on: April 15, 2022

Until a few decades ago, Celiac Disease was regarded as uncommon, but now it is considered a major health problem worldwide

 (Photo: Pexels)

(Photo: Pexels)

Recently, Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu, revealed after being trolled for gaining weight, that she had been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, a condition triggered by sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.  

Gluten-related disorders (GRDs) including Celiac Disease are on the rise, and in India, GRDs occur more in the north and north-west, where wheat is the staple grain, than in the rest of the country, where rice is predominant.

Celiac Disease is associated with both weight gain and weight loss and causes long-lasting digestive troubles. Due to lack of awareness about Celiac Disease, those who suffer from it realise it only in the later stages. While there’s no cure for the disease, experts say it’s possible to manage symptoms and heal the damage done to the small intestine through diet.

"Celiac Disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten. Over time, this reaction creates inflammation that damages the lining of the small intestine, leading to medical complications. It also prevents absorption of some nutrients," says DR. N. Ravisankar Reddy, Senior Gastroenterologist, Yashoda Hospitals. According to the World Gastroenterology Organization, Celiac Disease may be divided into two types: classical and non-classical. 

"In classical Celiac Disease, patients show symptoms of malabsorption, including diarrhoea, steatorrhea (pale, foul-smelling, fatty stools), and weight loss or growth failure in children. In non-classical Celiac Disease, patients may have mild gastrointestinal symptoms without clear signs of malabsorption or may have seemingly unrelated symptoms," says Dr CRK Prasad, Senior Consultant and Bariatric Surgeon, Apollo Hospitals.


"Patients may suffer from abdominal distension and pain, and/or other symptoms such as anaemia, chronic fatigue, chronic migraine, peripheral neuropathy (tingling, numbness or pain in hands or feet), unexplained chronic hypertransaminasemia (elevated liver enzymes), reduced bone mass and bone fractures, and vitamin deficiency (folic acid and B12), difficulty losing weight, late menarche/early menopause and unexplained infertility, dental enamel defects, depression and anxiety, dermatitis herpetiformis (itchy skin rash), etc," says Dr Prasad. Gluten is a group of proteins that are found in grains. Removing it from one’s diet can help to improve symptoms tied to Celiac Disease. "Treatment includes compliance with a gluten free diet and replacement of vitamins which are not absorbed," he explains.

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