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Celiac disease is a chronic intolerance to gluten, a protein that is present in cereals such as oats, wheat, spelt wheat, kamut, barley, rye, spelt and triticale.
The incidence of celiac disease in Italy is one in every 100/150 people. Potentially there may be 400 thousand people with celiac disease but only 35 thousand of them have been diagnosed. Each year five thousand new diagnoses are made and each year 2,800 new celiacs are born, with a yearly increase of 9%. However it is the diagnosis of celiac disease which is still underestimated, due also to the complexity of the diagnostic measures available up until now.
The only effective method of treating celiac disease to date is to exclude some of the most common foods from the diet, such as bread, pasta, biscuits and pizza. However, this requires considerable care and scrupulous hygiene with regard to everything which comes into contact with the food in order to remove the tiniest traces of flour from every pan. However, a considerable amount of effort is required in terms of nutrition education, because the inadvertent ingestion of gluten, even in small doses, can cause serious damage to health.
A strictly followed, gluten-free diet is the only therapy which guarantees perfect health for people suffering from celiac disease.
Celiac disease, which can strike any age group, is considered typical of the pediatric age group, and even specialists often fail to take it into consideration in adults. The intolerance can appear more or less acutely at any stage of life, very often after a stressful event such as a pregnancy, a surgical operation, an intestinal infection or considerable professional stress.
The clinical manifestations of celiac disease are extremely varied: some subjects show the classic picture of malabsorption with diarrhea, weight loss and multiple nutrient deficiency, whereas others report one or more chronic symptoms, often unrelated to the digestive system. Cramp, muscle weakness, pins and needles, hemorrhages, swollen ankles, bone pain, tendency to fractures, skin changes, aphthas and emotional disorders are common; iron deficiency anemia is also very frequent. Lastly, there are subjects with celiac disease who do not complain of any symptoms or in whom any disorders are so slight that they do not require medical attention; they are only diagnosed because another family member has celiac disease.
It is not rare for other diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic active hepatitis, thyroid disorders and herpetiform dermatitis to be associated to celiac disease. continue >>