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Celiac Disease Awareness

Updated on August 9, 2014

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune, digestive disease that destroys the lining of the small intestine leading to interference with absorption of nutrients from food. This occurs when the individual consumes gluten products and therefore those who suffer from celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten/ Gluten is a protein in wheat, rye, and barley.

1 in 133 North Americans are affected by celiac disease. Each year, more than 2.5 million Americans go undiagnosed.

Symptoms commonly seen in celiac disease include:

  • bloating
  • diarrhea/pale, foul-smelling diarrhea
  • poor absorption
  • itchy skin
  • mood changes

Symptoms seen but uncommon in celiac disease may include:

  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • bone and joint symptoms

Who is at Risk for Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease mainly affects those of European descent but Hispanic, African American and Asian backgrounds are also at risk. It is a hereditary condition.

Those who have celiac disease are at a greater risk for the following:

  • type 1 diabetes
  • autoimmune thyroid disease
  • autoimmune liver disease
  • rheumatoid arthritis

Diagnosing Celiac Disease

Celiac disease can be diagnosed by a blood test, but an intestinal biopsy will need to be performed to evaluate whether or not the characteristic changes of celiac disease, along with improvement when the individual changes their diet is demonstrated.

The Blood Test

The blood test performed looks for the following three antibodies:

  • anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTG) antibodies
  • endomysial antibodies (EMA)
  • deamidated gliadin peptide (DGP) antibodies

Genetic Screening Tests

Genetic screening tests may be performed to look for specific genetic codes. Those who carry the genes are at an increased risk for celiac disease.


Medications are not normally required for celiacs unless they suffer from skin rashes or other skin conditions.

Treatment of celiac disease is a life-long commitment and entails eating foods and using products that qualify as gluten-free. Oats, buckwheat, millet, rice and quinoa are naturally gluten-free grains. These grains are safe to eat as long as there is no cross-contamination with gluten during production or preparation.

© 2014 Mahogany Speaks


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