Whether you or a family member has been suffering from celiac disease, or you’ve just received the diagnosis, we invite you this month to celebrate Celiac Awareness Month. At our office, we aim to focus on education which allows individuals to understand how best to manage their own health conditions and move forward to living a normal, healthy life with the proper attention and care. This May, we’re focusing on a disease affecting roughly 1 in 100 people worldwide.
What Is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects around 1 in 100 people around the world. It results in damage to the small intestine, leading to improper nutrient absorption and potentially long term damage to the physical structure of the intestines. Since the small intestine is the area in the body where nutrients are absorbed, this damage can lead to malabsorption, fatigue, weight loss, bloating, anemia, and diarrhea.
What Causes Celiac Disease?
The exact cause of celiac disease can’t be pinpointed, but it is known to be an interaction between genes, made worse by certain diets or environmental factors. It can be triggered, or even become activated after major health events like infections, times of high stress, surgery, pregnancy, and childbirth.
Your small intestine is lined with villi, small projections that are responsible for absorbing the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from foods. Celiac damages these villi, which in turn causes rapid digestion, leading to the body’s inability to absorb those necessary nutrients. For patients with celiac disease, this damage is typically caused by eating gluten.
The signs and symptoms of the disease can vary quite a bit and are different in children and adults. Some people who have celiac don’t even show obvious symptoms. The most common ones seen in adults are anemia, loss of bone density, headache and fatigue, mouth ulcers, acid reflux and heartburn, joint pain, numbness in the feet and hands, and blistery skin rashes. For children, the most common symptoms include vomiting, chronic diarrhea, weight loss or failure to thrive, constipation, irritability, and poor appetite.
What Foods Contain Gluten?
Avoiding gluten is crucial for people with celiac. Ingesting even small amounts of gluten can trigger the autoimmune response that leads to the damage in the intestine. With proper diet and close attention to all ingredients in food, you can put off the symptoms of the disease and even begin to heal your body. Although it can seem very limiting to avoid gluten, it can actually be fairly easy. With more attention being called to celiac disease, gluten-free products are more common in grocery stores and restaurants, with some restaurants even having specific gluten-free menu options. It is possible to maintain a healthy and gluten-free diet by making sure to include these naturally gluten-free choices in your daily life.
Is There A Cure For Celiac?
Celiac disease is chronic, meaning there is no actual cure for it or the ability to outgrow the condition. However, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be managed and that your body can’t heal some of the damage caused by it. Once you are diagnosed with celiac, it’s important to continue regular checkups by our team, in addition to adhering to a strictly gluten-free diet.
If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms of the disease, notably a change in bowel movements and digestive discomfort for a few weeks, make an appointment to see Dr. Islam today. Celiac disease is known to be hereditary, so if you do have a family history of the disease, you should let us know about it.