Celiac Disease Awareness

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is a multi-system disorder caused by the body's immune system reacting to the proteins of wheat, rye and barley and possibly oats. The immune reaction damages the lining of the small intestine. When people with CD eat foods that contain gluten, it creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow the food to be properly absorbed.

Is Celiac Disease a common condition?

Celiac was thought to be a rare childhood syndrome. However, it is now known to be much more common. More than 2 million people in the United States have the disease, about 1 in 133 people. Among people who have a first-degree relative - a parent, sibling, or child diagnosed with CD, as many as 1 in 22 people may have the disease.

What are the symptoms?

Many individuals with celiac disease have little in the way of gastrointestinal symptoms or may receive a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome. While the classic symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss and edema, other patients present with constipation, anemia, bone pain or bone loss, chronic fatigue, skin problems, abnormal liver chemistries, dental enamel defects and neurological symptoms such as peripheral neuropathy, ataxia or seizures. Some patients with celiac disease are asymptomatic or have symptoms related to an associated autoimmune problem.

How is Celiac Diagnosed?

It can be difficult to recognize CD because it shares common symptoms with several other diseases. It can be confused with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), diverticulitis, intestinal infections, and chronic fatigue, as well as several other diseases.

According to the CD Center at Columbia University:

“The gold standard for diagnosis is the small intestinal biopsy, done during a procedure called endoscopy. The diagnosis is based on finding a series of abnormalities in an intestinal biopsy (increased inflammation and villous atrophy) that return toward normal on a gluten-free diet. As a follow up biopsy is not always necessary or performed, the combination of an abnormal biopsy and improvement of symptoms after gluten is eliminated from the diet is enough to establish the diagnosis. Blood tests that indicate higher than normal levels of specific antibodies are also used to support the diagnosis, but positive antibodies are not required to make the diagnosis.

A gluten-free diet should not be started until all diagnostic tests are completed, as the withdrawal of gluten can change test results. The recommendation by physicians, nutritionists, naturopaths and osteopaths to try a gluten-free diet as a trial of therapy for gastrointestinal symptoms, without biopsy confirmation of the diagnosis, should be discouraged.”

What is the treatment for Celiac Disease?

The treatment for celiac disease is for the patient to follow a strict gluten-free diet.

How can I find a support group?

Where can I get more information?

More About Celiac Disease & Gluten Intolerance

Testing At Home

Enterolab offers a variety of testing options. For more information, check out their website at www.enterolab.com