Blog 5/17/2017

Weekly Clinical Service Dose: May is Celiac Awareness Month

What is Celiac Disease? 

Celiac disease (gluten-sensitive enteropathy), is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

How does it Happen?

Sometimes celiac disease is triggered — or becomes active for the first time — after surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection or severe emotional stress.

When the body’s immune system overreacts to gluten in food, the reaction damages the tiny, hair-like projections (villi) that line the small intestine.

What are the symptoms of Celiac Disease?

Symptoms of celiac disease vary among sufferers and include:

  • Digestive problems (abdominal bloating, pain, gas, diarrhea, pale stools, and weight loss).
  • Severe skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis.
  • Iron deficiency anemia (low blood count)
  • Musculoskeletal problems (muscle cramps, joint and bone pain)

Risk factors 

Celiac disease can affect anyone. However, it tends to be more common in people who have:

  • A family member with celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Autoimmune thyroid disease
  • Addison’s disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

How do you get tested for gluten allergy? 

Another way to determine if you are gluten sensitive is to ask your doctor to order the following tests: IgA anti-gliadin antibodies (these are found in about 80% of people with Celiac disease

It’s important to be tested for celiac disease before trying a gluten-free diet. Eliminating gluten from your diet may change the results of blood tests so that they appear to be normal.


If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease, you’ll need to avoid all foods that contain gluten.

Ask your doctor for a referral to a dietitian, who can help you plan a healthy gluten-free diet. It’s important to get enough vitamins, nutrients, fiber and calcium in your diet.

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