Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Diseases

Celiac Disease

About Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system reacts to gluten.

Gluten is a protein that is found in grains including wheat, rye, barley, and oats. When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system reacts by producing antibodies which attack the lining of their intestine (villi) causing inflammation. Celiac disease is hereditary, meaning that it runs in families.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

This damage to the intestines means that essential nutrients found in food cannot be absorbed by the body, resulting in the person being malnourished. the wide range of symptoms associated with celiac disease which can include:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Stomach pain 
  • Bloating
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Iron deficiency (anemia)
  • Mineral and vitamin deficiencies, including vitamin D and B12 
  • Fatigue
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Weight loss
  • Itchy skin rash

Less common symptoms of celiac disease can include osteoporosis, infertility, seizures, and growth problems in children

Diagnosis of Celiac Disease

If celiac disease is suspected, there are a number of assessments that can be carried out to confirm diagnosis

  • Physical examination and discussion of your symptoms and your medical history.
  • Blood tests to measure antibody levels, and to check for nutritional deficiencies such as low iron levels. A stool sample may also be tested as celiac disease prevents the body from absorbing fat from food.
  • An endoscopy may be performed to check for any damage to the lining of the small intestine.
  • Your doctor may also advise screening of family members, as celiac disease typically runs in families

Treatment of Celiac Disease

The treatment of patients with celiac disease involves diagnoses as well as dietary education and ongoing management of the condition. Patients with Celiac disease need a regular follow up with examination of their small intestine as these patients have a higher risk of developing lymphoma in the small intestine.

A fully gluten-free diet is the only way to treat celiac disease. By cutting out gluten completely, many of the symptoms can improve within days, nutrient absorption improves over time, and in most cases, any intestinal damage heals within 6 months. For people who have been diagnosed with celiac disease, this means a gluten-free diet for the rest of their lives.