Celiac disease is a disorder that causes people to have problems with digesting foods containing gluten, which is a type of protein found in barley, rye, triticale, and wheat.
If you have celiac disease and you eat something containing gluten, an abnormal immune response will be triggered.
This causes damage on the inside of your small intestine, which causes your body to be unable to absorb the nutrients in your food.
It is vital to get proper treatment if you have celiac disease because more serious problems can result such as anemia, osteoporosis, and an increased risk of lymphoma.
In children, slowed growth and bone weakening can result and if not treated properly, children can become very sick.
You should contact your physician immediately if you notice that your child has diarrhea, is losing weight, or feels weak and tired often for no apparent reason.
Medical professionals are not quite sure what exactly causes celiac disease, but it is known that having certain genes can cause a predisposition to the disease.
If you have close family member with celiac disease, chances are that you carry the genes too and could get celiac disease.
Symptoms of Celiac Disease
Following are some of the signs and symptoms of celiac disease.
- Weight loss
- Changes in bowel movements
- Feeling weak/tired
These symptoms can be severe or they can be very mild. In some cases, individuals with celiac will vomit after eating gluten, which is more likely to happen in children.
In order to diagnose you with celiac disease, your physician will perform a physical examination and will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. He/she may wish to do some blood tests to find out if you have antibodies present that could indicate celiac disease.
If the antibodies are present, your physician may wish to do an endoscopy to confirm the diagnosis of celiac disease.
In this test, he/she will use a thin, lighted tube to look internally at your small intestine. He/she may also wish to do a biopsy, in which small samples will be taken of your small intestine and sent to a lab.
Many times, celiac disease is mistaken for other disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or food intolerances.
Your physician may treat you for these problems first. Once a diagnosis of celiac disease has been reached, your physician may wish to do more testing, such as checking for anemia and a bone density exam.
These will help reveal to him/her if there are other problems present, such as osteoporosis, which can arise in those individuals with celiac disease.
In order to get well and to stay well, you will need to avoid consuming foods that contain gluten.
For most people, this is a major change in the way they eat- they must change everything about their diet.
This can be very difficult for some people. You may want to find a dietitian who has experience working with individuals who have celiac disease.
Working together, you’ll be able to find some gluten-free foods that you enjoy.
Steps to Get Gluten Out of Your Diet
First of all, you must learn to read all ingredient labels. If a product lists barley, gluten, kamut, oats, rye, spelt, triticale, or wheat, you must avoid it.
These will trigger the autoimmune response and will make you sick. When you first get your diagnosis of celiac disease, this will definitely take some time and research and will take some getting used to. After all, you’ve never had to worry about this before now.
Take some time to learn about common products that you wouldn’t expect to contain gluten but do.
Gluten can be hiding in lots of different products such as starches, pastries, thickeners, soy sauce, glucose syrup, barbecue sauce, cereal, and lots of other things. Recently, food manufacturers have gotten much better about placing warnings on foods that contain gluten.
This is due to the increase in awareness of health issues and conditions related to gluten intolerances.
When you read the label, if there are not any of the items that you know contain gluten listed, and you’re still not convinced, look online to see if any of the other ingredients that are listed contain gluten.
Of course, you should know that at first, this will take lots of extra time. However, once you have learned more about what foods are safe and what should be avoided, this will become second nature for you.
Be aware that most breads, cereals, pastas, and other related items often have gluten in them.
However, you should also be aware that there are gluten-free alternatives to these. You can do an online search to find a list of manufacturers that have gluten-free alternatives to these delicious foods.
Ask friends and family to help to support you- especially when you first receive your celiac disease diagnosis.
It will definitely be a big change, but over time, it will become your normal way of life- as long as you have a good support system and you’re diligent about paying attention to labels.
In the meantime, you can be free to enjoy fun, healthy foods that you know don’t contain gluten, such as fresh fruits/veggies, meats, milk, honey, soft drinks, peanut butter, tea, bourbon, coffee, tequila, wine, and most other alcoholic beverages- except beer.