Celiac Disease

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What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the body when you consume gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. When this protein enters the small intestine it triggers an immune response. As this continues, over time, this immune response will damage your small intestine lining and prevent your small intestine from absorbing other essential nutrients.

Celiac disease is an inherited disease found especially, but not exclusively, in those of Northern European descent. Celiac disease is the most common genetic disease in Europe. Recent studies show that 1 in every 133 people in the United States has the disease. For more information about celiac disease and how to properly manage it so that you can live your life in the best way, contact your local GI Alliance and schedule an appointment with our experienced GI doctors.

What are the symptoms of celiac disease?

The symptoms of celiac disease can vary and be unique to each individual. Due to the degree of variation in symptoms, it can be hard to know if you have celiac disease. Some patients develop celiac disease early in life, while some can start to experience symptoms later in life. Symptoms can vary greatly between children and adults.

Some of the symptoms of celiac disease include:

  • Anxiety
  • Bloating or gas
  • Anemia – often develops from an iron deficiency
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Fatigue/tiredness
  • Diarrhea
  • Discolored teeth
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Pale mouth sores
  • Infertility
  • Irritability
  • Itchy skin rash with blistering
  • Poor weight gain
  • Thin bones, loss of bone density
  • Tingling- usually in the feet and hands
  • Numbness- from nervous system injury

If you experience several of these symptoms, especially after consuming gluten, contact your closest GI Alliance location.

What are some celiac disease treatments?

Unfortunately, at this time there are no medications that directly treat or reverse the effects that gluten has on those with celiac disease. The best thing that you can do for your health if you have celiac disease is to eliminate gluten from your diet. By avoiding gluten you can become symptom-free and the lining of the intestines can return to normal. Food products that contain gluten:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
  • Oats (if produced in facilities that produce wheat, barley, and rye)

Manage your health successfully

Schedule an appointment with one of the gastrointestinal doctors at your nearest GI Alliance location to learn about the ways that you can support your gut in the best way possible. Our team looks forward to helping you improve your life with solutions that are sustainable.

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How is celiac disease diagnosed?

Our GI Alliance gastroenterologists may use blood tests to help diagnose celiac disease. Such analyses may be performed to identify the presence of antibodies that are reacting to gluten. In some patients, a tissue biopsy of the small intestine might be recommended. Genetic testing may also be conducted to help assess the chance of developing celiac disease.

Is celiac disease hereditary?

For some people, celiac disease can be a genetic disorder. But having a family history of celiac disease does not necessarily mean someone will develop the condition. It might, however, make a person more likely to get it. Some patients with celiac disease carry no genetic predisposition.

Can celiac disease be cured?

Currently, there is no cure for celiac disease. The only way to prevent further symptoms is to consume a gluten-free diet. Research is being conducted to help identify other methods of treatment.

Is gluten intolerance the same as celiac disease?

While gluten intolerance and celiac disease produce many of the same GI effects, they are different disorders. As an autoimmune problem, celiac disease causes patients to respond negatively to gluten and can lead to complications in the digestive tract. Comparatively, a gluten intolerance involves a non-celiac gluten sensitivity that typically does not result in lasting damage to the body.

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