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Am Fam Physician. 1998 Mar 1;57(5):1023-34, 1039-41.

Detecting celiac disease in your patients.

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University of Texas Medical School at Houston, USA.


Celiac disease is a genetic, immunologically mediated small bowel enteropathy that causes malabsorption. The immune inflammatory response to gluten frequently causes damage to many other tissues of the body. The condition is frequently underdiagnosed because of its protean presentations. New prevalence data indicate that symptomatic and latent celiac disease is present in one of 300 people of European descent. Age of onset ranges from infancy to old age. Symptomatic presentations include general ill-health, as well as dermatologic, hematologic, musculoskeletal, mucosal, dental, psychologic and neurologic diseases. Celiac disease has a 95 percent genetic predisposition and, thus, it is frequently associated with autoimmune conditions such as diabetes mellitus type 1 and thyroid disease. Untreated patients have an increased incidence of osteoporosis and intestinal lymphoma. Excellent diagnostic screening tests are now available, including those that detect antigliadin and antiendomysial antibodies. Therapy with a gluten-free diet is effective, resulting in complete resolution of symptoms and secondary complications in almost all patients. Local and national celiac-sprue associations facilitate care of patients with celiac disease and support dietary compliance.

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