May is Celiac Awareness Month. If you have been experiencing symptoms that could be related to gluten sensitivity, and have been putting off seeking treatment, there’s no better time than now! It’s important to begin a celiac disease treatment plan as soon as possible to avoid long-term digestive complications.
What Is Celiac Disease and Its Symptoms?
Celiac disease has been a big topic of discussion over the past few years because celiac disease is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide, and two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed, both according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that occurs due to a genetic reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. If celiac disease is not treated, damage in the small intestine could occur.
Celiac disease causes your body to attack the small intestine when you consume gluten, thereby damaging its lining and decreasing the number of nutrients that can be absorbed into the body.
“Celiac disease symptoms can include diarrhea, nonspecific bloating, unexplained iron deficiency anemia, unexplained elevated liver function tests, premature osteoporosis, or self- reported gluten/wheat induced symptoms,” says Dr. John Secor of DHAT and Digestive Health Centers.
How Do I Know If I Need Celiac Disease Treatment?
There are a number of tests that can be conducted to determine the severity of your gluten allergy.
“It is important to initially assess serum Tissue Transglutaminase (TTG-IgA) and serum IgA status. If IgA deficiency is identified then TTG-IgG and deamidated gliadin IgG should be ordered. If these blood tests are positive an endoscopy procedure is generally recommended to confirm celiac disease,” according to Dr. Secor. “In severe cases, there are a number of follow-up tests that should be conducted.”
What Celiac Disease Treatment Options Are Available?
If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease then you should adhere to a gluten-free diet (GFD), according to Dr. Secor. “Initial celiac diagnosis should be followed by either referral to a dietician familiar with celiac disease or a support group with intensive celiac education.”
The Dallas-Fort Worth area has two very active support groups available. In Dallas, there is the Gluten Intolerance Group and in the mid-cities, there is the Gluten Intolerance Group of North Texas. Both have newsletters available for a modest cost.