Also known as celiac sprue and gluten-sensitive enteropathy, celiac disease is a digestive and autoimmune disorder that may result in damage of lining of small intestine particularly when gluten foods are eaten. The intestines get inflamed and villi are damaged. Villi are hair-like structures present on the intestinal lining and are responsible to absorb nutrients from food. The damage caused to intestines results in difficulty absorbing nutrients such as iron, folate, fat and calcium. Basically, if the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed and results in malnourishment irrespective of the diet person takes.
As compared to men, women are more frequently diagnosed with celiac disease. In fact about 65% of the people diagnosed are females. But the common symptoms of celiac disease such as fatigue, diarrhea and weight loss are most likely to occur in men than women. Women diagnosed with this disease usually do not report gastrointestinal symptoms before developing common symptoms.
Some of the common symptoms associated with celiac disease include diarrhea, bloating, frequent abdominal pain and constipation. The condition is most commonly reported among women experiencing following conditions:
- Early menopause
- Unexplained fertility
- Chronic fatigue
- Caesarean delivery
- Iron deficiency or anemia
- Musculoskeletal issues such as joint pain, muscle pain and muscle cramps
- Sores in mouth
- Osteopenia and osteoporosis
- Irregularities in menstruation cycle or absence of menstruation
- Decreased period of breastfeeding
- Severe skin rash problem
Some of the common celiac disease symptoms in women are explained below:
8 per cent of women with unexplained or unidentified reasons of fertility, are known to be suffering from celiac disease. In the study conducted, most women having celiac disease as the reason of infertility did not develop digestive problems. Therefore researchers advice that all the women for whom reasons of infertility are not known should be tested for celiac disease.
Women with celiac disease may develop infertility because of nutritional deficiencies which is the most common reason among newly diagnosed women with the condition. However it is still unclear as to why people with undiagnosed celiac disease have infertility. Malnutrition is one possible reason but actual reason is still be researched.
Problems in pregnancy
Most common problems that occur in pregnancy among women with celiac disease are gestational hypertension, intrauterine growth restriction, anemia, risk of miscarriage and placental abruption.Repeated miscarriage and stillbirth are also visible symptoms. If a woman faces such problems in her pregnancy, she should immediately consult her doctor. In some cases, following a gluten-free diet also helps to get a healthy pregnancy.
Among young women late first periods, irregular menstruation, pelvic pain, early menopause, endometriosis are few symptoms of celiac disease.
Thyroid disorders, severe anemia, osteoporosis and multiple sclerosis:
Women with thyroid disorders are more often linked with celiac disease. Of all the people with autoimmune thyroid disorder, around 8 % of them are most likely to have celiac disease irrespective of the fact how severe is the disease.
Anemia, which is a common problem that women experiences during gestation period, is also related to unexplained celiac disease among women. In one of the study, it was found that almost 40% of the women were diagnosed with anemia before they were identified with celiac disease. Therefore physicians check for celiac disease if they get a case of unexplained anemia. This type of condition is related to the nutritional deficiency particularly related to problem in absorbing the iron.
Osteoporosis is another common condition among women that is associated with celiac. Osteoporosis and celiac together are associated with nutritional deficiencies such as calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D. It will help if the suffering patient takes gluten-free diet in such a condition.
Multiple sclerosis is another disease among women. Although not much but multiple sclerosis is also associated with celiac disease. In the studies conducted so far, not all but some of the women with multiple sclerosis were diagnosed with celiac as well.
Most likely women diagnosed with celiac will first develop non-digestive symptoms and then digestive symptoms. If you experience digestive problems frequently you should surely take up a test for celiac. In a study conducted, it was established that some women suffer from bloated stomach and later it turned out to be celiac symptom. Others can have diarrhea or gastro esophageal reflux disease as their first celiac symptom.
Some women may also experience irritable bowel syndrome and then they are identified with celiac disease afterwards. However it is also possible that people suffer only from irritable bowel syndrome and physicians are mistake it to be celiac.