Printable resources to assist you on your gluten-free journey
Celiac disease, also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is an autoimmune disorder characterized by a permanent intolerance to gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and certain other grains. When individuals with celiac disease consume gluten, it triggers an immune response in their small intestine, leading to damage to the lining of the intestine.
The symptoms of celiac disease can vary widely from person to person, and some individuals may experience different degrees of severity. It’s important to note that not everyone with celiac disease will have noticeable symptoms. However, here are some common symptoms that can occur:
- Digestive Symptoms:
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Bloating and gas
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stools
- Weight and Appetite Changes:
- Unintended weight loss
- Poor appetite
- Failure to thrive (in children)
- Nutritional Deficiencies:
- Iron-deficiency anemia
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies (such as vitamin D, vitamin B12, folate, and calcium)
- Fatigue and weakness
- Delayed growth and development (in children)
- Gastrointestinal Issues:
- Acid reflux or heartburn
- Esophageal inflammation (esophagitis)
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- Skin Problems:
- Dermatitis herpetiformis (a skin rash characterized by itchy, blistering lesions)
- Dry skin
- Skin ulcers or sores that take longer to heal
- Musculoskeletal Symptoms:
- Joint pain and inflammation
- Muscle cramps and weakness
- Osteoporosis or osteopenia (bone loss)
- Neurological Symptoms:
- Peripheral neuropathy (numbness, tingling, or pain in the hands or feet)
- Balance problems
- Depression and anxiety
It’s important to remember that these symptoms can also be associated with other conditions, so a proper diagnosis by a healthcare professional is essential. If you suspect you may have celiac disease or are experiencing persistent symptoms, it’s recommended to seek medical advice for evaluation and testing.
To get properly diagnosed with celiac disease, it is essential to follow these steps:
Step 1: Consult with a Healthcare Provider
- Schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider, such as a primary care physician or a gastroenterologist. Describe your symptoms, provide relevant medical history, and discuss any concerns you have regarding celiac disease.
Step 2: Blood Tests
- Blood tests are crucial for diagnosing celiac disease. The primary antibodies tested for are tissue transglutaminase antibodies (tTG-IgA) and endomysial antibodies (EMA). These tests measure the levels of antibodies in your blood that are associated with an immune response triggered by gluten consumption.
Step 3: Small Intestine Biopsy
- A small intestine biopsy is considered the gold standard for diagnosing celiac disease. This procedure involves taking multiple small samples (biopsies) from the lining of your small intestine, typically during an upper endoscopy. The samples are then examined under a microscope to look for characteristic changes in the intestinal tissue that indicate celiac disease.
Step 4: Follow-Up and Treatment
- If you receive a diagnosis of celiac disease, the healthcare provider will provide guidance on managing the condition through a gluten-free diet. They may also recommend follow-up appointments to monitor your progress, assess nutrient deficiencies, and address any complications or associated conditions.
Remember, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and individualized care. They will guide you through the diagnostic process and help you navigate the necessary steps for managing celiac disease effectively.
Treatment of Celiac Disease
Currently, the only treatment for CeD
is the lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free
(GF) diet. All food that either contains gluten or
might have had contact with gluten (known as
cross-contact) must be avoided.
People with CeD must watch for cross-contact
and/or items that have been used with glutencontaining food and cannot be sufficiently
cleaned. For example:
- Toasters, toaster ovens, air fryers
- Food preparation surfaces
- Condiments and spreads
- Shared serving utensils
- Deep fryers
It can take time to heal, but it is vital to keep
to a strict GF diet