Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that is triggered by the consumption of the protein called gluten found in durum wheat, soft wheat, barley, rye, triticale, emmer, farro, kamut, and einkorn.
People with celiac disease cannot digest gluten. As a result, when they try to eat foods containing gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging the villi of the small intestine. This damage prevents the body from absorbing nutrients from food. The body’s immune response can manifest in a myriad of symptoms.
What are Some of the Symptoms of Celiac Disease?
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation
- Flatulence, bloating or abdominal pain
- Itchy skin rash
- Discolored teeth or loss of enamel
- Bone, joint pain or arthritis
- Acid reflux
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lactose intolerance
- Fatigue, insomnia or other sleeping disorders
- Depression, anxiety and irritability
- Tingling or numbness in your hands and feet
- Restless leg syndrome
- Mouth sores
- Missed menstrual periods
- Fractures or thin bones
- Significant weight loss
- Iron deficiency
- Infertility and miscarriages
In addition to the above symptoms, small children with celiac disease can experience growth problems and appear to have bloated stomachs. Older children may have shorter stature, delayed puberty, neurologic symptoms like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, headaches and lack of muscle coordination.
There are hundreds of symptoms of celiac disease, and for each individual the symptoms and severity differs. For a complete list, please click here.
The symptoms of celiac disease can mimic those of other diseases, including irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, lactose intolerance and depression. Undiagnosed celiac disease can lead to chronic illness. So please, get diagnosed.
How do I get Diagnosed for Celiac Disease?
The first step to diagnosis is a simple blood test that measures certain antibodies in your blood. These antibodies will be elevated if your immune system is reacting to gluten. It is important to continue to eat gluten before testing for accurate test results; otherwise, you may get a false negative.
If the blood test and symptoms indicate that you may have Celiac Disease, your doctor may recommend a biopsy of the small intestine to get a definitive diagnosis.
How is Celiac Disease Treated?
Celiac disease is treated by a lifelong gluten free diet. This may seem like a terrible fate, but feel positive about getting well and be thankful that you will not have to take medication or have invasive treatments.
Read more about how to stay away from gluten and still eat great!