Celiac disease is a chronic, genetic autoimmune disorder that affects approximately 1 percent of the population. When a person with celiac disease ingests gluten—a protein commonly found in wheat, rye and barley—the small, finger-like projections lining the small intestine (called villi) become damaged and the absorption of nutrients from food is disrupted.
Both men and women of all ages and races may develop celiac disease. The condition can also lead to other autoimmune diseases, infertility, reduced bone density, neurological disorders and some cancers. It is important to note that many Americans suffer from gluten intolerance, which may be characterized by many of the same symptoms as celiac disease but which does not adversely affect the villi in the small intestine.
Because celiac disease is characterized by a wide variety of symptoms (up to 300) that do not occur solely in the digestive system, the condition can be hard to diagnose. Symptoms often vary between children and adults, and some people with celiac disease present no symptoms whatsoever. There is significant risk that patients with the disease will develop long-term complications. Proper diagnosis of celiac disease involves an endoscopic biopsy of the small intestine to determine if the villi have been damaged.
Since celiac disease is chronic, cannot be outgrown and has no pharmaceutical treatment, only a 100 percent gluten-free diet is effective in relieving the condition's symptoms. Strict daily adherence to a gluten-free lifestyle can heal the damaged intestinal villi, prevent complications and reduce the risk of developing other related conditions. As with celiac disease, the only way to alleviate gluten intolerance is through a gluten-free diet.
Once a patient has been diagnosed with celiac disease, it is important that he or she meet with a nutritionist to learn more about maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle. Today, many gluten-free products are widely available at your local supermarket and drugstore. If you do develop celiac disease or gluten intolerance, it is possible to maintain a healthy, comfortable and active lifestyle through lifelong adherence to a gluten-free diet.
Goshen Health is proud to announce the addition of Dr. Sadat Rashid and Dr. Ross A. Heil to its Gastroenterology department staff. Together they bring their combined expertise to provide Goshen Health patients with Celiac and other gastroenterolic issues with world-class care.
Posted: 8/21/2015 by
Filed under: Celiac, Gastroenterology, gluten