May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month: Learn the Causes, Signs, and Treatments
Most people are familiar with gluten. In today’s world, it is quite common to know a number of individuals who live a gluten-free lifestyle even if you are not following one on your own. Being intolerant of gluten, however, may be an indication of a more concerning issue – a health condition called celiac disease. At Texas Digestive Disease Consultants, we aim to help individuals become aware of the signs and symptoms of celiac disease and develop ways to manage this disorder. There is no better time to find out more about the signs, symptoms, treatments for, and causes of celiac disease than May, designated as Celiac Disease Awareness Month. Keep reading to discover more about celiac disease from our DFW gastroenterology team.
What should I know about celiac disease?
An autoimmune disease, celiac disease results in damage to the small bowel when gluten is ingested. In the presence of this hereditary disease, the body will carry out an immune response following the consumption of gluten that can harm the villi, which are the minute fingerlike fringe lining of the small bowel. This keeps the body from absorbing nutrients correctly.
At Texas Digestive Disease Consultants, we strive to arm our patients with as much information about celiac disease as possible since approximately 1 out of 100 people live with this condition. In addition, individuals with celiac disease are at higher risk for developing atherosclerotic heart disease (coronary artery disease) and are four times more likely to experience small bowel cancer.
Know the symptoms and signs of celiac disease
It is estimated that around 2.5 million people in the United States are undiagnosed with celiac disease, making it highly important to know the signs and symptoms of this disease. Without proper care, celiac disease can result in concerning and chronic health issues.
Some common symptoms of celiac disease include:
- Excess gas
- Pain, numbness, or tingling in the feet
- Loose bowel movements
- Symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
- Fainting or weakness
- Dental caries
- Bone or joint pain
- Oral ulcers
- Dermatitis herpetiformis rash, commonly on the buttocks, elbows, or knees (called “celiac rash”)
- Bloating of the abdomen
What can I expect with a celiac disease diagnosis?
The GI specialists at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants commonly provide diagnostic celiac disease screenings and help individuals with celiac disease in DFW better manage this condition. To diagnose celiac disease, our experts will begin by obtaining an in-depth health and family history. Because people with an immediate family member who has celiac disease carry a 10% chance of developing the condition, it is essential to analyze family history at the start. From there, our physicians will review symptoms and conduct a physical exam. Our specialists may examine for the following when carrying out this exam:
- Skin rashes
- Abdominal swelling or pain
- Loss of weight
- Certain sounds emanating from the abdomen
Our GI team might also carry out various celiac disease tests, which could include biopsies of a skin rash or the small bowel, genetic testing, blood tests, and others. Test results can allow for a deeper understanding of symptoms and any potential autoimmune issues associated with celiac disease.
How is celiac disease treated?
Although celiac disease can lead to serious consequences in the absence of care, you can take comfort in knowing it can be relatively simple to treat. We typically recommend a celiac disease treatment of a gluten-free diet, which includes avoiding specific grains, like barley, rye, and wheat. While there is an ample amount of information pertaining to gluten-free diets on the internet, our gastroenterologists recommend consulting a nutritionist who can help aid in this transition, as gluten is commonly included in a number of household products. Some common things that can contain gluten are:
- Lipstick or lip gloss
- Some over-the-counter medications
Find care for celiac disease in DFW
Celiac disease entails a great deal more than living with a gluten intolerance. The disorder affects the small intestine and can cause long-lasting damage when left untreated. If you or a member of your family suffers from any of the above symptoms of celiac disease or has a sibling or parent with the disease, please visit Texas Digestive Disease Consultants to be evaluated for celiac disease so you can get care as soon as possible. For further details about GI conditions or to find help for celiac disease in DFW, please reach out to our gastroenterology team today.