Celiac disease is a painful gastrointestinal disorder that affects more than three million people in the United States. It is a hereditary autoimmune disease that can seriously impact other areas of your health if left untreated.
What Triggers Celiac?
Celiac disease is triggered by consuming gluten. Gluten is a complex protein substance found in wheat and other grains. Most breads, cereals, pastas, and other carb-based foods have gluten in them. People with celiac disease are unable to digest the gluten properly. The body responds to gluten with an immune response, damaging the intestines and making it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients. Untreated, celiac disease can lead to infertility. A person with celiac can become malnourished because of the damage to the villi in the intestines (responsible for absorbing nutrients) and develop diseases like osteoporosis and thyroid disease. People with celiac disease are also more susceptible to other autoimmune diseases.
How Is Celiac Disease Diagnosed?
In order to diagnose celiac disease, you must still be consuming gluten. The doctor will perform an endoscopy. The endoscopy is a minor outpatient procedure that allows the doctor to see and biopsy your intestine. The biopsy will confirm the damage to the intestines.
How Is Celiac Disease Treated?
The only effective method for treating celiac disease is adhering to a gluten-free diet, which means cutting wheat, rye, and barley completely out of your diet. By avoiding the consumption of gluten, you avoid the body’s autoimmune response that causes it to attack your intestines. Once you remove gluten from your diet, it can take about six weeks for the body to begin absorbing nutrients properly. Because there is no cure for celiac disease, avoiding gluten in all food consumption is essential. Luckily, the market for gluten-free foods has continued to expand.
Living with Celiac Disease
With the proper diet, a person can live comfortably with celiac disease. It requires mindfulness with every dietary choice. After being diagnosed with celiac disease, it’s important to have regular bloodwork in order to ensure that you are absorbing enough nutrients. You should work with your physician to understand your dietary needs and how to meet them while avoiding gluten. If you suspect you might have celiac disease, please contact Gotham Gastroenterology to schedule an appointment.