Celiac Disease, also known as Celiac Sprue, is a disorder of the small intestine that results from dietary exposure to gluten. It is caused by an overreaction of the body to gluten. This overreaction causes damage to the villi (the finger-like protrusions that help your gut absorb food) in the small intestine.
Celiac Disease is much more common in people of Northern European descent. It is most often diagnosed between 6 months and 2 years of age and it is a lifelong gluten intolerance.
• Easy bruising
• Depression or anxiety
• Hair loss
• Skin rashes
• Mouth ulcers
• Muscle cramps
• Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
• Pain in joints
• Tooth discoloration
Lactose intolerance may also occur. (this usually goes away after treatment for the gluten intolerance)
Evaluating for Celiac Disease:
An evaluation with your doctor or gastroenterologist can be very helpful in diagnosing Celiac Disease. They will need to know the following information, among other things:
1. What are the symptoms that you are having?
2. When did the symptoms first appear?
3. How long have the symptoms been present?
4. What makes the symptoms worse?
5. What makes the symptoms better?
6. Have you tried to exclude gluten from your diet?
7. Is there a family history of celiac disease?
Testing for Celiac Disease:
Laboratory tests for diagnosis of Celiac Disease include:
The gold standard test for diagnosing celiac disease is an intestinal biopsy. This will only be positive if you are still eating gluten. Once gluten has been excluded from the diet, the intestines go back to a normal appearance and therefore the biopsy is not helpful.
Treatment for Celiac Disease:
The good news is that once Celiac Disease is diagnosed, going gluten free is essentially curative. The bad news is that this treatment requires a lifelong strict exclusion of gluten.