Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that is inherited. Celiac disease occurs when the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged from eating gluten and other proteins that are found in barley, rye, wheat, and sometimes oats. Symptoms can very significantly, which often leads to a delayed diagnosis.
Some gastrointestinal symptoms can include: abdominal pain, distention, bloating, gas, and indigestion, constipation, decreased appetite, diarrhea, lactose intolerance, nausea and vomiting, stools that float, smell bad, are bloody, or “fatty”, unexplained weight loss.
Non-intestinal symptoms can include: anemia, bone and joint pain, bone disease, breathlessness, easily bruised, dental enamel defects and discoloration, depression, fatigue, childhood growth delay, hair loss, hypoglycemia, irritability and behavioral changes, malnutrition, mouth ulcers, muscle cramps, nosebleeds, seizures, unexplained short stature, skin disorders, swelling, and vitamin or mineral deficiency.
The precise cause for celiac disease is currently unknown. However, in patients with celiac disease, the villi in the intestines are unable to properly absorb nutrients. Celiac disease can be developed at any point during a person’s lifetime. If you have a family member with celiac disease, you are at greater risk for also developing it.
If you have celiac disease, you should get help from a registered dietitian who specializes in celiac disease. Mary will educate you on following a lifelong gluten-free diet and counsel you on food choices. This includes eliminating all foods, beverages and medications that contain wheat, rye, barley and possibly oats. Due to the abundance of these products in the typical American diet, it can be difficult to follow a gluten-free diet. With education and planning, you will be on the road to success.
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