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Celiac Disease in the Elderly

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Celiac Disease in the Elderly

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com

Though more commonly thought of as a disease that manifests in youth and young-adulthood, celiac disease is being diagnosed in the elderly with increasing frequency.

Celiac disease is the name given to a specific type of autoimmune response that occurs when a person ingests gluten, a protein found in foods such as pasta and bread.

Recent research, conducted by scientists from the University of Maryland School of Medicine Center for Celiac Research, has discovered that celiac disease is about two and a half times more common among elderly people than it is in the population as a whole.

One of the lead researchers of this study, Dr. Alessio Fasano, M.D., Director of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, discusses celiac disease in an interview for the University of Maryland.

According to Dr. Fasano, people with a genetic predisposition for celiac disease may develop it at any time, even if they have been eating gluten for years without any problems. He says this of the disease, “You cannot grow out of it, but you may grow into it.”

If a person with celiac disease eats food containing gluten, their immune system will go on the defensive, injuring and sometimes destroying the hair-like villi that line the inside of the small intestine. Without villi, an elderly person will not be able to soak up essential vitamins and minerals from their food. A variety of different health problems can arise from the malnutrition caused by untreated celiac disease. When left untreated, celiac disease can pose serious health risks for the elderly that include osteoporosis (reduced bone density caused by thinning bones) and neuropathy (nerve damage).

The common symptoms associated with celiac disease are diarrhea and abdominal pain and cramping.

Other symptoms can include:

Related:
6 Vital Nutrition Tips for Your Elderly Parents
Top 14 Antioxidant-Rich Foods For Super Health Benefits
Get More Energy by Eating Smart

Celiac Disease in the Elderly originally appeared on AgingCare.com.

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41 comments

+ add your own
2:47PM PDT on Oct 1, 2012

ty

9:53PM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

Thanks for the info, always good to know.

9:35PM PDT on Apr 21, 2012

All things in moderation.

12:39PM PDT on Apr 21, 2012

Do believe I'm in a sensitive stage. Feel much better when not eating wheat but man so crave it.

7:31PM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Cheers :)

10:48AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

thanks will pass this on

7:50AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Thanks for sharing

2:20AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Your article is greatly appreciated. I will forward this information to my friend who suffers from celiac disease and not being aware.

12:55AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

This information could help a lot of people on their way to better health, thanks.

12:53AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

thanks

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