Know the basics
What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease (CD) is a food allergy that prevents the body from using certain nutrients. The allergy is to a substance (protein) called gluten. Gluten is found in many grains, such as wheat, rye, oats, and barley. The allergy mostly affects the small intestine, where the food travels after it leaves the stomach. It usually first appears in babies when they start eating food containing gluten.
How common is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is more common in those of Western European descent. It often runs in families.
Celiac disease is not curable but can be controlled with a gluten-free diet.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of celiac disease?
Symptoms include diarrhea, with light tan or gray stools that may be watery or part solid, often smell bad, and look oily or frothy; weight loss; failure to grow and develop (babies and children); frequent gas; swollen abdomen (belly) or abdominal pain; mouth ulcers; tiredness, or weakness; paleness; rash; and muscle cramps.
Many adults with CD have fewer symptoms than children, and diagnosis is often suggested by blood tests showing unexplained anemia (low red blood count). A rare manifestation of celiac disease is an itchy rash known as derma-titis herpetiformis.
There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any digestive problem for longer than two weeks, please consult with your doctor. Other signs include pale skin, bloated belly or bad smelling stool.
Know the causes
What causes celiac disease?
An allergic reaction to gluten causes celiac disease, which is also called nontropical sprue and gluten enteropathy. Immunologic, genetic, and environmental factors all play a role in the development of celiac disease. When people with celiac disease eat food products containing gluten, their immune system attacks and damages finger-like projections known as villi lining the small intestine. The small intestine cannot absorb some nutrients, and people can become malnourished.
Know the risk factors
What increases your risk for celiac disease?
There are many risk factors for celiac disease, such as:
- Family history with CD or Herpes;
- Down or Turner disease;
- Autoimmune thyroid disease;
- Type 1 diabetes;
- Sjogren disease;
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor.
How is celiac disease diagnosed?
The doctor will test blood to check for lack of nutrients and antibodies produced in response to gluten.
The doctor may do other tests (such as endoscopy) to confirm the diagnosis and exclude other diseases. In endoscopy, a thin, flexible tube with a camera on one end is put into the throat and then down through the stomach into the small intestine. Then the doctor removes a piece of tissue for study under a microscope (biopsy). In a newer test, capsule endoscopy, a small camera in a swallowed pill can look inside the bowels.
The doctor may also do x-rays (small bowel series), which are taken after drinking a white chalky liquid (barium).
How is celiac disease treated?
The main treatment is eating a special diet that avoids anything containing gluten, which includes grains, particularly wheat, barley, and rye.
Food supplements to help boost low nutrient levels and medicine to help control the allergy may also be required.
Lifestyle Changes & Home Remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies help manage celiac disease?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with celiac disease:
- Get the help of a dietitian or nutritionist to plan your diet.
- Follow the gluten-free diet every day. Stay on your diet, even when you feel good.
- Take recommended or prescribed food supplements.
- Find a support group if you are interested in learning from others with celiac disease.
- Call your doctor if symptoms don’t improve after 3 weeks of new diet.
- Call your doctor if fever develops.
If you have any questions, Please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders / Elsevier, 2012. Print edition. Page 271.
Review Date: August 19, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017