Celiac Disease is a common problem, affecting 1 in every 133 people in the United States. It is a life-long auto immune disorder in which the body creates a toxic response to the ingestion of any type of gluten. Gluten is the protein found in all forms of wheat, barley, rye, and some oats. This causes damage to the small intestine, which does not allow for absorption of essential nutrients and minerals into the body. Thus, Celiac is classified as a disease of mal-absorption, as well as an auto-immune reaction to gluten. See your Plano Celiac Specialist for more information.
What Is Celiac Disease?
Celiac Disease is a disorder which affects the small intestine. When gluten is ingested, the body attacks the villi which line the inside of the small intestine. The villi are fingerlike structures that line the inside of the “small bowel”. They allow for the nutrients and minerals digested by the body to be absorbed through the walls of the small intestine into the blood stream. When the villi are attacked, they become blunted and are no longer able to absorb needed nutrients. This causes the individual to become malnourished, no matter how much food is ingested.
What Are The Celiac Symptoms?
The symptoms of Celiac Disease can vary significantly because the disease affects each individual differently. However, the most common symptoms are:
- Abdominal Pain/ Cramping
- Diarrhea/ Constipation
- Nausea/ Vomiting
- Foul Smelling/ Oily Stools
- Unexplained Weight Loss
- Bone/Joint Pain
- Dental Defects
- Abnormal Liver Function Tests
- Skin Rashes/ Blistering (Dermatitis Herpetiformis)
- Mouth Ulcers
- Vitamin/ Mineral Deficiency
- Behavioral Changes
- Hair Loss
- Arthritis/ Osteoporosis
How Is Celiac Disease Diagnosed?
If you are having any of the above symptoms, you should see your Dallas Gastroenterologist. Because the symptoms of Celiac Disease are also symptoms of many other medical conditions, Dr. Kenneth Brown will perform tests or procedures to correctly diagnose you and rule out any other diseases. However, even if you feel that you have Celiac Disease, starting on gluten free diet is not encouraged because it may falsely affect the results of any testing Dr. Brown may wish to do.
- Blood tests- to detect certain antibodies
- Upper Endoscopy (EGD)- to look at the intestines and take samples of intestinal tissue (biopsies)
- Biopsies- to test the tissue of the intestines for damage or flattening of the villi
What Is The Treatment For Celiac?
At this time, the only treatment for Celiac Disease is a life-long gluten free diet. Because many products contain gluten, it is a good idea to consult with a dietician after being diagnosed with Celiac Disease. If strict adherence to the diet is maintained, then people with Celiac Disease are able to live out a long, healthy life.
There are many support groups for people affected with this condition. Also, as the awareness of Celiac is growing, the amount of research being done on the disease is growing as well. Although currently, the only treatment is to maintain a strict diet, the medical community is making great advances in finding a treatment for this disease.