Celiac disease is an immune disorder that occurs in response to eating gluten. Damage to the small intestine can result if gluten continues to be consumed.
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While the exact cause of celiac disease remains unknown, studies show that it is at least partly genetic. Like many autoimmune diseases, the gene mutation is passed down through families. The genetic component combined with eating gluten may cause the body’s immune response.
Symptoms may begin due to:
The following factors may increase a patient’s risk of developing celiac disease:
Those with celiac disease may experience the following:
More than half of adults sufferers have symptoms that do not impact the digestive system, like:
Our Charleston GI doctors recommend diet changes to relieve celiac disease symptoms. Gluten is found in certain grains, like wheat and barley, which are used in the following common foods and drinks:
Keep in mind that any food additives, including colorings, flavorings, and thickeners, contain gluten as well. That’s why it is important to check food labels before consuming processed or packaged foods.
Foods containing gluten can be replaced by adding these to your diet:
There are also gluten-free versions of many foods available in most grocery stores, like gluten-free pasta, bread, and flour.
If you are experiencing digestive discomfort or the symptoms listed above, do not suffer in silence! Our highly qualified gastroenterologists are here to help. Before diagnosing celiac disease, your Charleston GI specialists may ask more about your family history, conduct a physical exam, order blood tests, or perform a biopsy of the small intestine.
A blood test can help your gastroenterologist diagnose celiac disease. After eating gluten, higher than normal levels of specific antibodies are detected in celiac disease patients. A biopsy of the small intestine may also be performed to confirm a celiac disease diagnosis.
Despite the absence of a cure, celiac disease can be managed by sticking to a strict gluten-free diet. Preventing symptoms requires a serious commitment to a gluten-free lifestyle – one that should not be attempted without your gastroenterologist’s assistance.
What should I eat if I have celiac disease?
If you have celiac disease, our GI physicians recommend following a gluten-free diet. Consult a dietician to ensure your new diet meets all your nutritional requirements.
Does having celiac disease hurt?
Because celiac disease affects the digestive system, the most common symptom is stomach pain.
Who is more likely to get celiac disease?
Celiac disease most commonly develops in those who:
Is it genetic?
Yes. Celiac disease is at least partly genetic. This means it can be passed from parent to child.
Can it be cured?
No, there is no cure for celiac disease but symptoms can be managed by maintaining a gluten-free diet.
How is celiac disease diagnosed?
Celiac disease can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms are similar to those of other digestive conditions, including:
What are some tests used to diagnose celiac disease?
Here at Charleston GI, our experienced gastroenterologists may do the following to diagnose celiac disease:
What is nonresponsive celiac disease?
Some people with celiac disease don’t respond to what is thought to be a diet free of gluten. In many cases, gluten is actually contaminating the diet. Those with nonresponsive celiac disease might also suffer from poor pancreas function, irritable bowel syndrome, or other digestive system conditions.
What is refractory celiac disease?
Very rarely, the harm done to the small intestine keeps a gluten-free diet from effectively managing symptoms. If symptoms persist for six months to a year after following a gluten-free diet, further testing may be needed.
What is dermatitis herpetiformis?
An intolerance to gluten may cause an itchy rash, often on the knees, torso, elbows, scalp, and buttocks. While this skin condition is often related to small intestine lining changes (the same as those of celiac disease), dermatitis herpetiformis does not cause digestive symptoms. Medication and a gluten-free diet are most commonly used to treat the rash.
Is a gluten-free diet the only thing I need to change in my eating habits?
Lactose or fructose intolerance are also associated with celiac disease, so your gastroenterologist may recommend avoiding lactose and/or fructose as well as gluten. A diet low in FODMAPs is often recommended to manage digestive conditions like celiac disease.
To learn more about treatment for GI tract issues in Charleston, SC, get in touch today! Charleston Gastroenterology is committed to a higher standard of caring – and we provide a range of medical treatments to help you feel your best.
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