What is Celiac Disease? Understanding the Warning Signs and Symptoms.
National Celiac Disease Awareness Day is September 13, a day to spread awareness and increase knowledge on the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of celiac disease.
Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease that didn’t receive its modern definition until Dr. Samuel Gee presented his theories and findings at a lecture in 1887. Over the decades, many researchers studied the health condition, but it wasn’t until the 1970s through the 1990s that celiac disease was recognized as an autoimmune disease. National Celiac Disease Awareness Day was commemorated in 2010. September 13 was chosen as the date to honor Dr. Samuel Gee, who celebrates his birthday on that day. He was the doctor who led celiac disease research and first identified the link between celiac disease and diet.
Since the awareness of celiac disease is fairly recent, it’s important for more people to understand the warning signs, symptoms, and treatments of the autoimmune disorder.
What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is often referred to as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy. The disease is an immune reaction to consuming gluten. Celiac disease should not be confused with gluten sensitivity, which is a condition in which people experience bloating and diarrhea when they eat gluten.
Celiac disease is genetic and can be passed down from parent to child. Research suggests that people with celiac disease have certain genes that cause gluten consumption to trigger an immune response in the small intestine. Other research has explored that changes in the microbiome may play a role in the development of celiac disease.
Early Warning Signs of Celiac Disease
Most people experience one or more warning signs of celiac disease before they are diagnosed and begin treatment. The most common symptoms of celiac disease are digestive issues, including:
- Lactose intolerance.
- Abdominal pain.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Greasy, foul-smelling stool.
Some people with celiac disease may also experience other symptoms, including:
- Canker sores.
- Dry mouth.
- Dermatitis herpetiformis.
- Chronic fatigue.
- Joint or bone pain.
- Peripheral neuropathy.
- Infertility issues.
- Missed menstrual periods.
There also are warning signs of celiac disease to look out for in children. They are:
- Weight loss
- Below average height
- Mood changes
- Slowed growth or weight
- Delayed puberty (delayed start of the menstrual cycle)
- Damage to the enamel of permanent teeth
How is celiac disease treated?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for celiac disease at this time. However, the condition can be managed by preventing the symptoms. The best way to improve or prevent symptoms is by following a gluten-free diet and avoiding contact with products that contain gluten.
Gluten is naturally found in certain grains like wheat, rye, and barley, which is why it is often an ingredient in many foods and products. If you have celiac disease, avoid eating gluten by checking food labels for gluten. When eating at a restaurant, ask for gluten-free options.
Gluten also can be an ingredient in some products, including toothpaste, mouthwash, lip products, skin and hair care products, and cosmetics. Therefore, it’s important to also check product labels. If your child has celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, you should also avoid letting them play with Play-Doh, which contains gluten and may trigger symptoms. Instead, look for gluten-free playdough options.
Learn more about celiac disease this National Celiac Disease Awareness Day. Contact Gastro MD. We are a cutting-edge clinical gastroenterology practice that sets the standard in digestive health care.