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Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where eating gluten (a type of protein found in wheat, rye, and barley) damages the small intestine.  When this happens the villi (small fingerlike projections) in the small intestine shrink and flatten out, and are unable to absorb nutrients properly into the body.  

You may have heard celiac disease being called coeliac disease, celiac sprue, non-tropical sprue, or gluten sensitive enteropathy.

Celiac disease runs in families and is most common in people from a northern European background.  You have a higher risk if your parent, child or sibling has been diagnosed with celiac disease.

There are basically three ways patients with celiac disease may experience it:

Classical – symptoms of malabsorption, weight loss and failure to thrive

Non Classical – less specific symptoms such as abdominal pain and distention, anemia, chronic fatigue, chronic migraine, peripheral neuropathy

Silent – Asymptomatic but have damage to their small intestine often better health after sticking to a strict gluten-free diet.

Infants and children often exhibit digestive symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal pain and bloating

  • Chronic diarrhea

  • Vomiting

  • Constipation

  • Weight loss

  • Fatigue

  • Pale, foul-smelling stools

Adults are less likely to have digestive symptoms and are more likely to have:

  • Iron deficiency anemia

  • Fatigue

  • Joint pain

  • Arthritis

  • Liver Disorders

  • Depression/Anxiety

  • Tingling, numbness or pain in the hands or feet

If you suffer from unexplained stubborn illness for several months, you should consider being screened for Celiac Disease, as currently it is estimated that 80% of the celiac population remains undiagnosed.

Want to know more about it?  Here is a link to the Celiac Disease Foundation: