What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is not a food allergy but an autoimmune disease. People can sometimes grow out of a food allergy, but that’s not the case with celiac disease. The disease causes a person’s immune system to have a bad reaction to gluten. Gluten is a protein in many foods, including some grains like wheat, rye and barley. If you have celiac disease and you eat foods that contain gluten, your immune system can damage your small intestine and prevent your body from absorbing nutrients from food.
What are the symptoms of celiac disease?
There are many symptoms that can appear at any time in a person’s life. It’s a disease that affects kids and adults. Consult with your health care provider if you think you have a problem. Some of the symptoms of celiac disease can include the following:
- Stomach cramps, intestinal gas
- Bloated stomach
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation (or both)
- Unexplained weight loss
- Fatigue and weakness
Can you get tested for celiac disease?
There are tests to determine celiac disease. Contact your health care provider to help you through the discussion and process. There are several different blood tests to help screen for the disease. A physician will help you determine if you should have a small-bowel biopsy to confirm diagnosis.
Treatment for celiac disease
Celiac disease is a lifelong disorder. The only treatment for the disease is to follow a strict gluten-free diet. Once gluten is removed from your diet, your intestines should be able to heal and your health should improve. Following a gluten-free diet is a lifestyle change.
If you find you must follow a gluten-free diet, you’ll need to commit to reading food labels carefully and to educating yourself on the types of food and food products that can contain gluten. There are more gluten-free products on the market now, which is helpful because you do not have to make all your food from scratch. With education and strict adherence to your diet, you can begin to feel better.