Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease Q & A

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease occurs when your body’s immune system reacts abnormally to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. If you have celiac disease, the immune response that occurs in your small intestine can have many unpleasant symptoms. Over time this damages the lining of your small intestine, which can prevent it from properly absorbing vital nutrients.
Some people experience many of the symptoms of celiac disease, but don’t experience the damage to their small intestine it causes and doesn’t test positive for the antibodies that usually indicate it. These people are considered gluten sensitive or gluten intolerant, but don’t have celiac disease.
While there’s currently no cure for celiac disease, eliminating gluten from your diet can often effectively manage or even eliminate symptoms and encourage your intestine to heal.

What are the symptoms of celiac disease?

What are the symptoms of celiac disease?

The symptoms of celiac disease vary greatly between adults and children. Adults with celiac disease most often experience:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Constipation
  • Acid reflux
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating and gas

In addition to these standard symptoms, more than half of adults with celiac disease experience one or more symptom unrelated to the digestive tract, such as:

  • Anemia from iron deficiency
  • Osteoporosis
  • An itchy, blistering skin rash
  • Damage to teeth or ulcers in the mouth
  • A headache

For children, the most common symptoms of celiac disease include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Irritability
  • Delayed puberty in adolescents

In children under the age of 2, you may also notice signs of muscle wasting or a swollen belly.

How is celiac disease treated?

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for celiac disease. However, by avoiding gluten, most people are able to manage their symptoms effectively. If they suspect you have celiac disease, a physician conduct a blood test to be certain. If the test confirms that you have celiac disease, you’ll have to eliminate the following from your diet:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Durum
  • Farina
  • Graham flour
  • Malt
  • Rye
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Triticale

If you need help creating a new diet plan, ask one of our physicians about how to best approach your new eating habits. Once you remove gluten from your diet, your small intestine begins to heal. This can take several months, but many people begin to feel better in a matter of days.
Some people with celiac disease will have bouts of diarrhea or abdominal pain if they accidentally eat gluten once they’ve eliminated it from their diet, but not everyone reacts this way. However, gluten is still harmful to people with celiac disease even if it doesn’t immediately cause symptoms.
If you believe you may have celiac disease or have any questions, call New York Gastroenterology Associates or schedule an appointment online today.