Celiac Disease and a Gluten Free Diet: What to Know

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an illness in which ingesting gluten leads to the deterioration of the small intestines. Almost always contained in grains like wheat, barley, rye, noodles, breakfast cereal and other carb-rich foods, gluten is often part of most people’s diets. However, for adults, teens or even children with the disease, eating food that contains gluten could cause detrimental health issues. The single effective remedy for gluten sensitivity is to completely remove gluten from your diet. However, a majority of those who have celiac disease do not know they have it.

You can develop the disease no matter how old or young you are. It is estimated that in the U.S. there are two million celiac sufferers and that nearly two-thirds of these people are not diagnosed or are improperly diagnosed. Untreated celiac disease can result in severe health complications. At Ocean Family Gastroenterology, we can help you diagnose and manage a gluten sensitivity.

What is Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is caused by a swelling in the small intestine from eating gluten. When the gut swells, it is not able to absorb the nutrients it needs. Gluten is a general name for proteins found in wheat, barley and rye. People are at higher risk if they have an immediate relative with the disease, Type 1 Diabetes, an autoimmune thyroid disease or Down syndrome.

Celiac Disease Symptoms

Celiac disease patients often complain of upset stomach that has lasted for months or even years. If you have the disease, you may experience one or several of the following problems after consuming gluten:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Difficulty while making bowel movements
  • Indigestion
  • Lightheadedness
  • Loose stools
  • Pain, tingling, or poor circulation in the feet
  • Rashes
  • Tooth decay

How is the Disease Diagnosed?

Diagnosis begins with a blood test. If the blood test is positive, or if you are at high risk of having the disease, you may need an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) test. An EGD involves using an endoscope with a camera on the end that is passed down your throat to examine the upper GI tract. During the EGD, the physician may take a sample, also called a biopsy, to send to the lab. The EGD test is typically an outpatient procedure.

Celiac Disease Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no medication or treatment for celiac disease. For many patients with celiac disease, following a gluten-free diet can help to relieve symptoms or even prompt the small intestine to heal. If you have celiac disease and stop eating gluten you should see improvements in your digestive health after several weeks.

Get Help with Gluten Free Diet in Toms River, NJ

A gluten-free diet is considered healthy but is truly not necessary unless you suffer from celiac disease. Common gluten heavy foods include breads, pasta, crackers, cakes, cookies and pies. Currently stores and restaurants carry gluten free options. At Ocean Family Gastroenterology, our providers are experts at the diagnosis and management of the disease. If you think you might have celiac disease or you have questions about your digestive health, contact us at (732) 281-1590 or online HERE.