What is Celiac Disease?

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is a chronic digestive and autoimmune disorder causing the immune system to attack the small intestine when reacting to the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Over time, the damage destroys the small intestine lining. It prevents it from absorbing nutrients, known as malabsorption, further leading to diarrhea, fatigue, anemia, and other serious health complications.  

Unfortunately, there is no cure for celiac disease, but following a strict gluten-free diet can protect your small intestines and manage your symptoms. 

Signs and Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Symptoms of celiac disease will vary from person to person and differ in children and adults.

Some of the signs to look out for in children include: 

Some of the signs to look out for in adults include: 

Diagnosing Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is diagnosed using numerous tests to rule out other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, lactose intolerance, and more, as they share many common symptoms. 

Your doctor will utilize your symptoms, a physical exam, family history, genetic tests, blood tests, and intestinal biopsies to determine an accurate celiac disease diagnosis. 

Treating Celiac Disease

A strict and lifelong diet free of gluten is the only way to manage celiac disease and prevent damage to the small intestine. Gluten is found in:

Even trace amounts of gluten in your food can cause damage internally, even if it doesn't cause symptoms. Gluten can also be found in non-food items such as medications and hygienic products, making it crucial to be conscious of any products or ingredients you put onto or into your body. Once you cut out gluten, your small intestine will start to heal itself, reversing any damage. 

Working with a nutritionist and gastroenterologist to ensure a gluten-free lifestyle and manage any symptoms or complications is the best way to stay on top of celiac disease. 

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