We all experience stomach pains from time to time and normally pay little mind to it. It could have been caused by something you ate, how much you ate, a night of drinking, nervousness, or countless other reasons. However, if you feel like you have a persisting problem that leaves you running to the bathroom or experiencing painful stomach cramps day after day, you may have a chronic condition like Crohn’s or Celiac disease.
These conditions are very similar in nature and it is possible for one individual to have both conditions; however, there are also some key differences that distinguish the two.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac is an autoimmune disorder in which the body does not properly digest a protein called gluten that is found in grains like barley, wheat, and rye. Instead of processing it normally, the body recognizes gluten as something foreign and triggers the immune system to attack the small intestine.
A strict gluten-free diet is the best treatment for celiac disease. This means eliminating foods made from or processed with gluten, including bread, corn, rice, soy, beans, flax, oats, pasta, flour, cereals, and processed lunch meats.
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease, on the other hand, is an inflammatory bowel condition. There is no known cause for Crohn’s other than potential links to genetics and family history. By causing inflammation in the lining of the digestive tract, Crohn’s leads to complications that are not typical symptoms of celiac disease. These complications are typically how doctors can distinguish between the diseases before any real diagnostic tests are run.
In addition to the digestive tract, Crohn’s often causes inflammation in the eyes and joints as well. Sufferers may also notice bloody stool, as the disease normally causes the most inflammation in the lower half of the digestive tract.
There are, of course, dietary restrictions that can help manage Crohn’s disease. Many patients cannot eat dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter and find it helpful to eat foods that are high in fiber like broccoli, spinach, apples, and other fruits and veggies. Some people with Crohn’s opt for a gluten-free diet as well, but there is currently no research that supports the necessity of a gluten-free diet for those afflicted with Crohn’s disease. Treatments for Crohn’s include medication and sometimes surgery for severe cases where other options have failed.
Have a Doctor Distinguish Between Celiac or Crohn’s
If you feel that you are suffering from either condition, don’t guess. Instead, schedule a visit with your general practitioner. They will often refer you to a specialist such as those at Gastroenterology Associates for a definitive diagnosis and development of an appropriate course of treatment. You may also schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist yourself by contacting our Baton Rouge office.