What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is a condition in which a protein – gluten – found in certain foods causes the immune system to damage the small intestine. When damaged, the small intestine is no longer able to absorb food and nutrients properly, known as malabsorption. Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to serious health problems such as digestive cancers, anemia, and osteoporosis.

What Causes Celiac Disease?

It is not clear what exactly causes celiac disease, but there is a combination of environmental and genetic factors. That means it’s important to review your family history to see if parents or siblings have suffered from similar health problems.

Although there is no cure for celiac disease, avoiding gluten can stop the damage to the lining of the small intestine. 

What are the Symptoms of Celiac-Disease?

The symptoms of celiac disease can vary from person to person. Some people experience no symptoms, but blood tests might detect signs of malabsorption. Others can develop a variety of gastrointestinal complaints. 

The most common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased energy

You may also experience other signs and symptoms of vitamin and nutrient deficiencies, which can cause anemia, bone loss, nervous system disorders, and skin rash. 

Children with celiac disease may exhibit signs of poor appetite, slow growth, and weight gain difficulty.

What is the Treatment for Celiac Disease?

A spread of fruits and vegetablesThe cornerstone of treatment for celiac disease is the elimination of gluten from your diet. Most patients will notice an improvement in their symptoms within two weeks. It’s rare to experience symptoms if you adhere to a strict gluten-free diet. In these cases, it’s considered refractory celiac disease, which requires medication to suppress the immune system (like steroids). 

Removing gluten can be overwhelming initially because many foods that we eat, and even condiments that we cook, with contain gluten. Some examples of gluten sources include wheat, barley, rye, ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, and more. Consulting with an experienced dietician can help you learn how to eat, shop, and prepare a gluten-free meal.

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Prevention & Treatment

Upper Endoscopy (EGD)

A procedure that uses a thin scope with a light and camera to view the upper digestive system. Learn more about this procedure and schedule an appointment with a Gastro Health physician at a convenient location.

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