What is Celiac Disease?

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation

“Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disease that occurs in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications”. What is Celiac Disease? | Celiac Disease Foundation

It is scary to think that most people with celiac disease have no idea they have it. It can be hard to diagnose because the symptoms don’t always alert doctors that you have this disease. For me, the diagnosis wasn’t so difficult. I consider myself one of the lucky ones. Although, no celiac is lucky. I had gastrointestinal symptoms with low iron and a B12 deficiency. Definitely, an indication that something was wrong in there.

What are symptoms of this disease?

  • Vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Bloating
  • Flatulence
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Irritability
  • Short stature
  • Changes in mood such as anxiety
  • Tingling numbness in the hands and feet
  • Seizures
  • Irregular periods, infertility or recurrent miscarriage
  • Canker sores inside the mouth
  • Thinning hair and dull skin

Most of the adults have symptoms unrelated to the digestive system such as –

  • Anemia
  • Osteoporosis (or) osteomalacia
  • Blisters and skin rashes that itch
  • Damage to the dental enamel
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Damage to the nervous system
  • Ache in the joints and in the head
  • Reduced functioning of the spleen (hyposplenism)
  • Acid reflux and heartburn

Symptoms Source, Focus Media – for more info click the following link. https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=2100071

Other than gastrointestinal symptoms I also had canker sores, anemia, damage to dental enamel, fatique, acid reflux, irritibility, anxiety, thinning hair, tingling in the hands and feet, and Raynaulds.

How is celiac diagnosed?

I know this one! When my doctor referred me to a gastroenterologist, I was already anemic and deficient in B12. This made her believe that instead of just IBS, there was something else going on. She sent me for a blood test. My blood test came back inconclusive. She said there was a 50% chance I had the disease. She decided to do a biopsy. She preformed an endoscopy and took a tissue sample from my small intestines. The test came back negative. This ruled out celiac disease. She also had me go in for a small bowel follow through. This is when you drink a chalky liquid and have a series of x-rays done. The x-ray showed possible narrowing of the small intestine. After reviewing my results she believed it was possible that I may have crohn’s disease. She gave me a prescription for something called Salofalk. I took the medication as prescribed. I found that the longer I took the medication, the more painful my gas and bloating were. I called and explained my symptoms and she said to try a digestive aid. The pain got worse, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I called again and made an appointment. This time she repeated the blood work for celiac disease and it came back positive. She took another biopsy and it too came back positive. It turns out that Salofalk contains gluten! So there you have it, the full story of my diagnosis. From that point on I had to follow a strict gluten free diet. She told me that because the damage was minor, If I adhere to the diet, the damage should repair itself in time. She was correct, I am now damage free.

But what happens to people who are not diagnosed?

“Complication of undiagnosed celiac disease can include: lactose intolerance, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, osteoporosis or osteopenia, iron deficiency anemia, lymphoma, infertility, bone weakness, and nervous system disorders.”

Many of these problems will go away with a gluten free diet. Your recovery time will depend on how long you have been dealing with the complications. But depending on how much damage is done, infertility and bone weakness doesn’t often reverse”

Source: What Are the Complications from Celiac Disease? (webmd.com) Click this link for more detailed information.


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