Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease

What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is an allergic reaction that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is caused by a reaction to eating gluten.  Gluten is found mainly in foods containing wheat, barley, rye and oats.

What causes celiac disease?
The exact cause of celiac disease is unknown. The lining of the intestines contains areas called villi, which help absorb nutrients. When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products that contain gluten, their immune system react by damaging these villi.

People with celiac disease are more likely to have:

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Addison’s disease
  • Dental Problems
  • Down syndrome
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Intestinal lymphoma
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Osteoporosis and Osteopenia
  • Thyroid disease
  • Type 1 diabetes

What are the symptoms of celiac disease?
Although symptoms can vary from person to person some common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain, bloating, gas or indigestion
  • Diarrhea, and less frequently constipation or bloody stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Psychotic issues
  • Skin disorders
  • Weight loss

How is celiac disease treated?
A gluten-free diet is the way to treat celiac disease by avoiding foods, beverages, and medications that contain wheat, barley, rye and oats.  Complete abstinence from gluten is necessary, permanently.  A single exposure can affect the intestinal lining for three weeks.

Your doctor may prescribe vitamins to correct nutritional deficiencies. Also, corticosteroids (prednisone) may also be prescribed for short-term use, in severe cases.  After being diagnosed with celiac disease getting help from a registered dietitian who specializes in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet is recommended.