This May, Carolina Digestive Health Associates is working with both new and existing patients to bring attention and understanding to a common disease that affects millions – Celiac Disease. May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month, so it is important that we work with our patients to dispel common myths surrounding Celiac Disease and create an understanding about what exactly it is and how it can be treated.
What Is Celiac Disease?
Gluten sensitivities and allergies are often viewed as the newest dietary trend. Gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, is seemingly everywhere. While there is certainly some validity to people suffering from gluten intolerance, Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that results in a damaged small intestine, leading to a lifetime of disease management. It’s something you are predisposed to that can be triggered by external or internal factors.
According to the Mayo Clinic “Celiac disease tends to be more common in people who have:
- A family member with celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis
- Type 1 diabetes
- Down syndrome or Turner syndrome
- Autoimmune thyroid disease
- Microscopic colitis (lymphocytic or collagenous colitis)
- Addison's disease”
Is there a cure for Celiac Disease?
There is no actual cure. Our doctors can, however, help you learn how to manage your illness and lessen your symptoms to help create a better quality of life. Celiac Disease is most commonly managed through a gluten-free diet.
Of course, a gluten-free diet avoids gluten, but many don’t know just how many foods gluten can hide out in. Everything from pasta to bread is suddenly off-limits. However, because of the “fad diet” of the gluten-free diet, there are many more selections available at stores and restaurants for those who must eat gluten-free.
Gluten is found in much more than just wheat, rye, and barley, rye. Other grains to eliminate from your diet include:
- Graham flour
- Matzo flour and meal
Not all grains are off-limits though, here is a list of options that are gluten-free:
- All potatoes
- Sago flour
- Rice and wild rice
Grains like oats and rice are naturally gluten-free but can be processed in facilities with foods that are not. It is important that you always look for the certified GF label when shopping to avoid cross-contamination.
When gluten is avoided, your small intestine can heal, leading to fewer problems with inflammation in the future. It may take some getting used to, but with your doctor’s advice and guidance, you can find yourself feeling better with the right lifestyle adjustments.
When Should You Visit A Doctor?
Symptoms vary from patient to patient, so you may experience something that another does not, or to a different degree, so it can be difficult to pinpoint when to seek a diagnosis. Celiac Disease can be diagnosed through blood tests or endoscopic examination.
The most common symptoms that people with Celiac Disease experience are abdominal pain and bloating, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel, anemia, joint pain, and weakness, or weight loss. If you are suffering from any combination of the above-described symptoms, contact Carolina Digestive Health Associates today to start working toward an answer and treatment.