The Science of Celiac
The number of cases of celiac disease is on the rise. Is celiac disease the new black, or is something else going on? Everyday Einstein explains.
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People with allergic reactions to gluten may have anaphylactic shock or other typical allergic reaction symptoms, or they may get contact urticaria, which is a bunch of red, welt-like patches on the skin. Some people also have respiratory allergies to gluten.
Many things previously written off as IBS, IBD, malabsorption, anemia, or "failure to thrive" are now known to really be caused by celiac disease.
Immune system reactions to gluten can include things such as celiac disease or gluten ataxia (which is an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten where your immune system attacks part of your brain which can cause balance issues, and has been associated with - but not known to cause - depression, dementia, loss of sensitivity in your extremities, and seizures). Other immune reactions to gluten can include dermatitis herpetiformis, which is a super bright-red rash that looks like herpes but isn't herpes.
Gluten-Intolerence Is the New Black
Some researchers believe that the prevalence of celiac disease isn't increasing. Instead they believe that public awareness and our ability to diagnose celiac disease have just gotten much much better. Many things previously written off as IBS, IBD, malabsorption, anemia, or "failure to thrive" are now known to really be caused by celiac disease.
If you had gone to the doctor 10 years ago with chronic diarrhea and general fatigue, they probably would have said "You have Irritable Bowl Syndrome" or "maybe you're lactose intolerant." If you go with the same symptoms today, the first step is a blood test to screen for celiac. It's really only been in the last 5 - 10 years that we've gotten decently good at diagnosing celiac disease.
Another possibility is that over the centuries, strains of wheat have been selectively bred by farmers to produce better flour, which means having more gluten. So over the centuries the amount of gluten in commercial wheat has increased.
Another hypothesis is that modern society lives in such a sterile environment with antibacterial everything, that our immune system is just hypersensitive. A few researchers believe that introducing children to gluten at too young of an age can lead to an increased risk of celiac disease.
Finally, since celiac disease is a non-lethal genetic variant (meaning that people born with those genes don't usually die at a young age), those genes have spread through the population.
It could be any, all, or none of these reasons.