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Celiac Disease Advocacy Sheet

By EmpowHER

Celiac disease is a condition triggered by consumption of the food protein gluten. Gluten sensitivity is a current hot topic as it is now diagnosed more often based on improved testing and awareness. The food industry is slowly responding with more gluten-free products.

Some questions to ask when consulting with your doctor include, but should not be limited to:

  • What is celiac disease? It is a digestive condition that is often inherited. It can emerge following some form of trauma such as infection, physical injury, pregnancy stress, severe stress, and surgery.
  • What are symptoms of celiac disease? Common symptoms can include intermittent diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating. Other less recognizable symptoms are irritability or depression, anemia, stomach upset, joint pain, muscle cramps, and tingling in the legs and feet. Celiac disease can mimic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, gastric ulcers, Crohn’s disease, parasite infections, or a nervous condition.
  • What causes celiac disease? When gluten is consumed, often found in breads, pasta, cookies, pizza crust and other food containing wheat, barley or rye, an immune reaction occurs in the small intestine causing damage to the surface of the organ impeding the absorption of certain nutrients. The malabsorption can eventually cause vitamin deficiencies that deprive your body of vital nourishment and possibly cause other illness.
  • How is celiac disease diagnosed? A doctor-ordered test determines if a patient has celiac disease. Some doctors may order an endoscopy to view the condition of the small intestine.
  • How is celiac disease treated? There is no cure, however, many patients have experienced improved quality of life by avoiding gluten.
  • What is the long-term risk? If not treated, or if a gluten-free diet is not practiced, patients can have a higher chance of developing malnutrition, loss of calcium and bone density, lactose intolerance, cancer (especially intestinal lymphoma and bowel cancer), and neurological complications (seizures, nerve damage).
  • What information should I share with my doctor if I suspect celiac disease? It is important to keep track of symptoms, medications, personal information (stress, life changes, diet), and share it with your doctor.
  • Is my condition temporary or chronic?
  • Is there any research I can do on my own and what sources would you recommend?
  • What can I eat? When practicing a gluten-free diet, it is important to replace forbidden grains with non-breaded meats, fish, and poultry, dairy (unless lactose intolerant), fruits, vegetables, rice, potatoes, and certified gluten-free flours and products.

www.mayoclinic.com Celiac disease

Christine Jeffries is a writer/editor for work and at heart, and lives in a home of testosterone with her husband and two sons. Christine is interested in women’s health and promoting strong women.

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