Celiac Disease Awareness

Author: Nathan Kiskila, MD

Celiac disease awareness day is every year on September 13th. About 83% of Americans who have celiac disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can occur where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage of the small intestine. Gluten is a protein naturally found in some grains including wheat, barley, and rye. Celiac disease is a problem when one’s immune system has an abnormal reaction to gluten.  Commonly, people with celiac disease experience vitamin deficiencies such as calcium, vitamin D, folate, B12, B6 and zinc, before adopting a gluten-free diet.

We do not know the exact cause of celiac disease, but having certain genes puts you at an increased risk.  If you have a first degree relative like your mother, father, brother or sister who has these genes, you are at greater risk.  Infections may trigger changes in your small intestine with a person who carries this gene.  Foods that contain gluten can trigger an abnormal response to your immune system.  Over time, this can cause absorption and digestive problems.

The symptoms of celiac can be very mild to severe and can impact someone’s everyday life.  Some symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Abnormal Stools
  • Bloating and Gas
  • Vomiting
  • Weight Loss

A physical exam, history and lab work is often conducted to detect if an individual has celiac disease.  The diagnosis is then confirmed with a small intestine biopsy, which is done during an endoscopy.

The treatment for celiac disease is eliminating gluten from your diet.  For an individual to stick to a gluten-free diet, they must avoid foods containing wheat, rye, and barley.  For example, some common items that contain gluten are breads and beers.  Ingesting even the smallest amounts such as crumbs from a cutting board or toaster could lead to damage to the small intestine. There are no medications or surgeries recommended for celiac disease.

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.

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