Complications Of Untreated Celiac Disease


Complications Of Untreated Celiac Disease

National Institute of Health highlights the complications of celiac patients who are not following the gluten-free diet. Such problems arise as a result of the symptoms that are actually present in a celiac patient. Most of the time, these symptoms subside soon after starting to follow a strict gluten-free diet.

· Malnutrition

In spite of the patients eating nutritious foods, they are malnourished since these nutrients are not absorbed by the villi. Nutrients and vitamins will be excreted out through the stool instead. This can further lead to weight loss, vitamin deficiencies, anemia, and hence fatigue, neurological problems, low bone density and stunted growth.

· Osteoporosis and lowered calcium levels

Vitamin D and calcium levels are reduced significantly by excretion through stool, thus causing rickets in children, which is a type of kidney stone known as oxalate stone in addition to osteomalacia (bones soften due to loss of calcium), osteopenia and osteoporosis. Fascinatingly, bone diseases seem to occur even in people who just have a mild type of celiac disease. They may not have malabsorption also. But once gluten-free diet is followed, there will be good improvements.

· Lactose intolerance

Lactase enzyme is responsible for digesting the lactose ingredient present in dairy products. It is synthesized in the cells lining the villi. As villi shrink and get damages, these cells will no longer produce lactase and hence celiac patients face problems to digest lactose. After sticking to a gluten-free diet, lactose intolerance will be healed off since the production of lactase is resumed by those cells owing to the damage of villi being healed.

· Cancer

If celiac patients are left untreated for a long time, it may lead to lymphoma or other gastrointestinal cancers. The risk of developing one is greatly increased though they are rare indeed. But evidence proves that this risk is the same as a healthy person when a gluten-free diet is strictly followed.

· Psychiatric complications

Celiac disease has been found to be linked to neurological complications like anxiety, depression, neuropathy, severe headaches, seizures and balance disorders.

· Pregnancy problems

Pregnant women have an increased risk for miscarrying or the baby being malformed. This can occur when pregnant woman don’t stick to the gluten-free diet or don’t know themselves that they have celiac disease. The often-occurring malformation in the infant is neural tube defects.

· Short stature

Celiac disease in children can cause short stature. It is important for children to consume nutritious foods since they are in the growing stages. Since the nutrients consumed will not be absorbed, the child does not grow to the required height. If celiac disease is diagnosed and gluten-free diet is followed at the right time, there will be nothing to worry regarding the health or height of the child.