Facts You Should Know About Celiac Disease
Do you experience gastrointestinal (GI) effects after eating gluten-containing products? GI symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, abdominal discomfort, and oily stools that arise after ingesting gluten could be the result of celiac disease. An autoimmune disorder, celiac disease causes an abnormal immune response to the protein found in grains known as gluten. This immune reaction is triggered by gluten consumption, resulting in uncomfortable GI effects. While there is presently no cure for celiac disease, the gastrointestinal doctors at Washington Gastroenterology can detect and manage celiac disease symptoms. Read on as our Washington team explains more about this condition.
How does celiac disease affect the body?
Individuals with celiac disease should undergo a diagnosis and care from a trusted digestive health doctor. Celiac disease can cause harm to the body when the condition is not diagnosed or treated. It can have a chronic impact on the small bowel (intestine), where the body absorbs most vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. When gluten is taken up in the small bowel, it elicits the immune system to respond. The body then sends out a host of antibodies to protect against it. These antibodies may harm the tissue in the small bowel, which could affect the body's ability to absorb nourishment from food.
Other potential long-term effects of celiac disease include:
- Heightened risk of intestinal cancer
- Development of new food intolerances
- Liver conditions
- Scarring or ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract
- Compromised immune system
What are the treatment options for celiac disease?
The prime way to treat celiac disease is to remove gluten from your diet. Once you have been tested for and diagnosed with celiac disease, you can often fend off uncomfortable symptoms once you stop eating gluten. In time, the lining in your intestine should heal and absorb nutrients once again. Since there is no known cure for celiac disease, you may need to eat a diet void of gluten for the rest of your life to avoid damaging to the small intestine. Other treatments that could be helpful involve:
- Doctor-suggested nutritional supplements
- A good follow-up care routine
If you need celiac disease treatment, the gastrointestinal doctors at Washington Gastroenterology may be able to help. Even though the main form of treatment is a gluten-free diet, it is crucial to be diagnosed with celiac disease before cutting out gluten altogether to determine how it might affect you.
Celiac disease vs. gluten intolerance: How do they compare?
Without proper knowledge, gluten intolerance and celiac disease might seem to be the same condition. They both lead to unpleasant GI symptoms after consuming gluten. The similarities end there, however. As mentioned above, celiac disease can cause an atypical reaction in the body that may have a negative effect on your GI system over time. While gluten intolerance is uncomfortable, it should not create long-term damage to the digestive system. Gluten intolerance can often be addressed by supplementing digestive enzymes that are known to help reduce GI symptoms. Symptoms of gluten intolerance and celiac disease are almost identical. If you are experiencing symptoms, it is important to consult one of our Washington digestive health professionals to learn which condition you have.
Find help for celiac disease in Washington
At Washington Gastroenterology, our team is passionate about educating patients on celiac disease awareness. Every 1 in 133 individuals is diagnosed with celiac disease. Having the condition can change how you live life, usually favorably. Once gluten is removed from the diet, the body can start to recover from the damage caused by this protein. As the body heals, the risk of developing one or more of the above long-term effects diminishes. To learn more, contact one of our Washington state practice locations near you. You can trust our board-certified gastroenterologists to help preserve and protect your GI wellness.