What is Celiac disease?
Celiac disease is a malabsorption disorder affecting the small intestine. More specifically, it is an “immune based reaction to dietary gluten that primarily affects the small intestine in those with a genetic predisposition and resolves with exclusion of gluten from the diet.”1
What is gluten?
Gluten is a storage protein that is found in wheat, barley and rye. Look at the Nutrition Facts label on your favorite food item – there is a high likelihood that it contains gluten!
What are the symptoms of Celiac disease?
Although the classic presentation of celiac disease is that of diarrhea, it can actually present with many different symptoms, including
- Chronic diarrhea
- Steatorrhea (fat malabsorption leading to excessive fat in the stool)
- Weight loss
- Flatulence (excessive gas production)
- Abdominal pain
- Abnormal lab tests (elevated liver enzymes)
- Low iron in the blood
- Low bone density
- Skin disorders
- Vitamin malabsorption (zinc, B12, B6, iron, vitamin D, folic acid)
How is Celiac disease diagnosed?
Celiac disease is diagnosed based on a combination of blood tests and biopsies from the small intestine. Blood tests can be ordered through our office and biopsies from the small intestine are obtained during an upper endoscopy (EGD).
What is the treatment for Celiac disease?
Currently, the only recommended treatment for Celiac is a gluten free diet. Remember, celiac is an immune-based reaction to dietary gluten, which damages the small intestine and leads to malabsorption (diarrhea, vitamin deficiencies, etc). By removing gluten from the diet, the small intestine no longer has constant, daily damage and can heal. Although alternative treatments are being developed, such as drug therapy, the only recommended treatment as of this time is a gluten free diet.
Is there any other treatment besides a gluten-free diet?
No, not at this time