What is silent coeliac disease
When people think of coeliac disease, they usually think of obvious symptoms, mainly related to gastrointestinal problems (nausea, bloating and stomach ache, diarrhoea, vomiting).
The problem with the silent coeliac condition is that although it is a full-fledged coeliac condition, it does not show any obvious symptoms and it is therefore much more difficult to detect.
In fact, it is often found by chance during general clinical examinations, which include tests for specific coeliac antibodies.
Even though there are no visible symptoms, the silent coeliac condition should not be underestimated because, like the 'classic' coeliac condition, it causes the destruction of intestinal cells, without any external signs of this deterioration, making this form very risky.
The continuous degradation of intestinal cells leads to chronic inflammation, which predisposes the body to other serious diseases such as hypothyroidism, infections, diabetes, intestinal tumours and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
Another major risk is related to bones: untreated coeliac disease causes progressive deterioration of bone tissue, leading to osteopenia and/or osteoporosis.
Detecting silent coeliac disease
Certain types of serious pathologies, such as type I diabetes, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome, etc., have often been found together with the coeliac condition, but it is not yet understood whether they are a result or a coexistence.
However, there is one important piece of information that can help identify this form of coeliac disease: relatives of coealics, especially first degree relatives, seem to be more likely to have a silent coeliac disease.
A study by the Mayo Clinic has shown that in 44% of cases first-degree relatives of a coeliac present the disease but are asymptomatic or have atypical symptoms.
Apparently, it is always necessary to do the specific tests because it can be extremely harmful to arbitrarily exclude gluten from the diet, especially without the guidance of a dietician.
Although it is not yet clear why some people have the typical symptoms of coeliac disease and others do not, it can be assumed that this is because asymptomatic people tend to have a more varied diet and are therefore less likely to have an excessive intake of gluten.
Nevertheless, as we have already stated, this does not mean that this form of coeliac disease is not coeliac disease in its own right, or that it is less serious, and therefore can’t be made exceptions by taking gluten every now and then, because unpleasant consequences may not be experienced immediately.
Again, the only solution is to eliminate gluten from the diet with the guidance of an expert.
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