Gluten-free has become quite a catchphrase in the past few years, with new products available in the grocery stores and full menus devoted to the dietary trend. But for millions living with celiac disease, this new movement is more than just a fad–it’s a necessary way of life to keep themselves healthy. This May, celebrate Celiac Disease Awareness Month with Carolina Digestive Health Associates and learn more about this autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive system.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects 1 in 100 people. The disease is triggered by the consumption of gluten and causes an attack in the small intestine. This attack leads to damage in the digestive tract, making it challenging for the body to absorb nutrients properly. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, which are found in a majority of processed foods and can be difficult to avoid. There is currently not a treatment for celiac disease, but adhering to a strict gluten-free diet can help keep symptoms at bay and slow down further damage to your intestines.
Not everybody experiences celiac in the same manner, and the symptoms even differ based on your age when you develop it. It can present as classical, non-classical, or silent celiac disease and can vary greatly. Patients who have classical celiac disease typically show with nutritional malabsorption, diarrhea, weight loss, and failure to thrive in children. Those with non-classical celiac disease may show less digestive related symptoms. These symptoms might include abdominal pains, chronic fatigue and migraines, reduced bone mass, vitamin deficiency, unexplained infertility, dermatitis, and depression or anxiety. The third type, silent celiac, is the most challenging to diagnose since it can present no symptoms at all, even though you can have serious damage to your small intestine.
There is a simple test to determine if you have celiac disease, which can show certain antibodies in the blood that indicate a presence of the disease. You should request a celiac test for kids older than three years old who are experiencing symptoms, those with first-degree relatives who also have the disease, or patients with preexisting associated autoimmune disorders. There are other ways to determine if you have the disease, including an endoscopy or a biopsy.
One of the key ways to make the most of Celiac Disease Awareness Month this May is to make sure that you’re doing your part to learn more and educate others on celiac disease and the necessary lifestyle adjustments needed for someone once they receive the diagnosis. If you or someone in your life has learned they have celiac, it’s important to fully adjust your diet and make others aware of necessary changes. In addition to dietary changes, you may also need to make other lifestyle adjustments in order to remain healthy.
If you feel like you might be suffering the symptoms of celiac disease, make an appointment at Carolina Digestive Health Associates so we can test you for the disease, help you understand your condition, and assist with necessary lifestyle changes. Don’t live another day suffering from this disease in silence.