The ABCs of Celiac Disease
The words “You have celiac disease,” may bring about many emotions – stress, sadness, and even grief over the loss of favorite foods.
While diving into the world of celiac disease may feel overwhelming at first, we’re here to remind you that while it is completely normal to feel a wide range of feelings, it is also important to know it is possible to have a happy and full life!
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is a genetic digestive and autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine, interfering with nutrient absorption from food. Some people may experience no symptoms at all, while others may have a range of physical and digestive symptoms.
It is important to schedule a visit with us if you suspect you may have celiac disease since it can cause malnutrition and other health issues.
Once diagnosed, there is a world of language you will be introduced to. Below, we breakdown those words and facts to simplify what life is like for those with celiac disease.
ABC’s of Celiac Disease
Autoimmune disease. Contrary to popular belief, celiac disease is not an allergy, it’s actually an autoimmune disease.
Bloating, cramping, constipation and diarrhea can be symptoms for those who are diagnosed.
Currently the only treatment of celiac disease is a lifelong adherence to a gluten-free diet.
Development. Celiac disease can develop at any age after people start eating foods or medicines that contain gluten.
Estimated to affect 1 in 133 Americans, celiac disease happens in approximately 1 percent of the population in the U.S.
Finding foods that work for your body is key with celiac disease.
Gastroenterologist. The type of doctor that can diagnose celiac disease.
Hereditary. Celiac disease is hereditary, meaning that it runs in families. People with a first-degree relative with celiac disease (parent, child, sibling) have a 1 in 10 risk of developing celiac disease.
Immune response is what happens when people with celiac disease eat gluten.
Just read labels or ask questions. Products should be certified gluten-free to ensure no cross contamination occurred when making the food you plan to consume.
Knowledge is power! The more you know about what it means to have celiac, the better your quality of life will be.
Lip balm, medicine, and even envelope glue are a few examples of everyday items where gluten may pop up, though it is mainly found in food.
Malnutrition can be a symptom of celiac disease, so it is important to visit a doctor for proper diagnosis.
Nutrient absorption is an issue for those with celiac disease and without proper care, it can cause damage to the small intestine.
Oats are a tricky food for those with celiac disease. While they do not contain gluten naturally, often times they are grown and harvested with wheat, which contains gluten.
People with celiac disease have twice the risk of developing coronary artery disease, and a 4 times greater risk of developing small bowel cancers.
Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and generally well tolerated by those with gluten sensitivity. Other gluten-free grains can be found here.
Re-invent. Eating a strict gluten-free diet can feel like a challenge at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to re-invent favorite meals to be compliant.
Symptoms can come in a variety of ailments. While some may be depressed, tired and irritable, others may experience seizures, missed periods and infertility, in addition to digestive issues.
Testing. Many people with celiac disease don’t know they have it. Two blood tests can help diagnose it as well as further investigations with an endoscopy or a capsule endoscopy.
Untreated, celiac disease can lead to additional serious health problems.
Villi are small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine. They work to promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged through things like ingesting gluten, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.
Wheat, rye and barley are three ingredient triggers for people with gluten sensitivity.
Xanthan gum is a gluten-free ingredient for those who enjoy baking.
Your mental health is important, too. Being newly diagnosed with celiac disease can feel scary. Please give yourself grace as you start your journey.
Zillions of websites, recipes, and stores cater to living a gluten-free lifestyle, so there’s no shortage of resources available.
Overall, nothing can prepare you to chart the waters of celiac disease like visiting a doctor. Visit Gastrointestinal Specialists, P.C. in Troy, Michigan, to receive a true diagnosis of what’s causing your stomach issues so we can help you. Request an appointment with us today.