There is a lot you need to know about celiac disease to understand what it is and what you need to look out for. This post will cover the symptoms, test, treatment and causes for celiac disease to give you a better understanding and make you more aware.It will also cover who is most at risk for having celiac disease.
1. What is Celiac Disease?
First we need to know what celiac disease is, right? Simply put, it is the body's immune reaction to gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. You may have heard of people following a gluten free diet. This does not mean they have celiac disease. It may just mean they are sensitive to gluten. For people with celiac disease eating gluten upsets the small intestine and makes it difficult for the body to absorb the nutrients it needs.
While symptoms vary greatly, some of the more common include anemia, itchy skin, headaches, fatigue, and joint pain. If you notice any of these symptoms, especially after eating gluten, seek help from your doctor. They can provide testing and further guidance.
Doctors use a few different tests to check for celiac disease. The first is a series of blood tests. The tests look for specific antibodies that are common for celiac disease. If the blood test comes back positive, the next test will be a biopsy of the small intestine. The biopsy looks for abnormal villi and inflammation. If these things are found, you will be diagnosed as having celiac disease.
4. See a Doctor
If you suspect you may have celiac disease it is a good idea to call your doctor and get the testing done. If you are a parent and notice weight loss, diarrhea lasting longer than a couple of weeks and mood changes in your child make an appointment for testing. If you already know you have celiac disease and are following the proper diet and are still struggle with symptoms you may want to see a doctor as well.
Treatment starts with a diet change. People with celiac disease must follow a gluten-free diet. This means you should avoid all foods that contain wheat, barley, rye, triticale and oats. Most people notice a change after two weeks, but it can take longer for some. While a diet change sounds simple, it really isn't. Gluten is found in more foods than you can imagine. Fortunately many companies are coming up with gluten free alternatives. Some restaurants even have gluten free menus.
The cause of celiac disease are unknown at this time. There does seem to be a link to genetics, but people have also been known to develop celiac disease after viral or bacterial infections. Scientist will continue to research celiac disease for a better understanding of the cause.
7. Who is at Risk?
Because of the genetic link with celiac disease you are more at risk of having it yourself if a direct relative such has a parent, sibling, or child has been diagnosed. Seek testing if a close family member has celiac disease or you start to notice symptoms.
I hope you have found this brief overview of celiac disease helpful. If you have celiac disease what are some things you would like others to know? Thanks in advance for sharing.