Celiac Disease

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is a serious digestive disorder in which the immune system responds abnormally to a protein called gluten, which then leads to damage to the lining of the small. The damage to the lining of the small intestines prevents its normal function from absorbing important nutrients leading to malabsorption. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, and rye, and other prepared foods. People with celiac disease can develop diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating, and anemia when they eat food that contains gluten. Celiac disease affects both genders and people of any age. The prevalence of celiac disease is 1 in 100 people worldwide. Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications. There’s no cure for celiac disease but following a strict gluten-free diet can help manage symptoms and promote intestinal healing.

What are the intestinal manifestations of Celiac Disease?

  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Diarrhea 
  • flatulence
  • Bowel movements that contain fat 

What are the extraintestinal manifestations of Celiac Disease?

  • Weight loss
  • Loss of bone density
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis: chronic, very itchy skin rash made up of bumps and blisters
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Tingling and numbness in the feet and hands

How is Celiac Disease diagnosed?

Celia disease diagnosis begins with a physical exam, medical, and family history. Blood tests and an intestinal biopsy are also done to confirm the diagnosis.

  • Blood test – A blood test to detect elevated levels called IgA tissue transglutaminase and other abnormally high antibodies in people with celiac disease. Patients are encouraged to be on a gluten-containing diet for several weeks before getting the blood test.
  • Biopsy – A thin tube with a tiny camera called an endoscope is passed through the mouth down to the small intestine to examine the intestines and to check for damage to the villi. A sample tissue can also be removed from the intestines for analysis.

How is Celiac Disease treated?

Gluten-free diet: maintaining a gluten-free diet by avoiding all products that contain gluten is the cornerstone of treatment for celiac disease. Some of the foods that contain gluten include bread, pasta, pastries, cereal, semolina, rye, barley, and malt. Gluten-free foods include rice, corn, potatoes, buckwheat, soybeans fruits, and vegetables.

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