What is Celiac Disease? Get the Facts

Celiac Disease affects more than 2 million Americans and 1 in 100 people worldwide. Celiac Disease is an auto-immune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. Because of this damage, it makes it harder for your body to absorb nutrients. Although it is hereditary, anyone at any age can develop celiac disease if they eat food or take medicines that contain gluten. Some people may have celiac disease and not know it. Even though symptoms vary, the following can occur:

Digestive problems, including gas, bloating, and abdominal pain
Dermatitis Herpetiformis, a skin rash
Seizures
Joint and muscle pain
Fatigue

If left untreated, celiac disease can lead to other problems in your body such as osteoporosis, miscarriage, and stunted development in children due to their body not absorbing the nutrients it needs. If you suspect that you are suffering from celiac disease, ask your doctor for a diagnosis. When diagnosing, your doctor may take some tests including a physical examination, a blood test, or a biopsy to determine if your body has a gluten intolerance. With these tests, it should be easy for your doctor to determine whether you have celiac disease and to explore what options you have.

Treatment of this disease means a strict diet of foods without wheat, rye or barely, where gluten is commonly found. Even a small crumb of gluten can cause disruption in the small intestine. Although changing your diet, especially if you are just discovering that you have a gluten intolerance, can come as a shock to you, it’s fairly easy to stick to a gluten-free diet and live a normal life. Aside from being more careful with what you eat, there are many alternatives and it’s a fun way to incorporate different foods into your diet that are more healthy for you and your digestive system. Instead of pasta or bread made with wheat flour, try it made with rice or potato flour. Also, take the extra time to read every food ingredient listed on the labels of your groceries and always ask your server at a restaurant what is in the food and if it contains gluten. Most restaurants offer gluten free menus or state that entrees are gluten free to make it easier for you to order.

Living with celiac disease can be tolerable as long as you make sure know the right foods to eat and get correct treatment from your doctor. As the month progresses, be sure to do research and learn more about the disease to become well informed and spread the information to others as well.