In honor of May being Celiac Awareness Month, we wanted to give an overview of the disease including the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. 1 in 133 people in the United States have celiac disease and 83% of those people are undiagnosed. Celiac is an autoimmune disease affecting the gastrointestinal tract. Individuals with celiac disease should avoid gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Ingesting gluten with celiac disease leads to an immune response attack on the small intestine that affects the absorption of nutrients. A lifelong avoidance of gluten is necessary for any individual with this disease.
Common Symptoms in Children
- Abdominal pain/bloating
- Poor appetite
- Chronic diarrhea
- Weight loss
- Skin rash
- Dental problems
A blood test can be done in order to assess for the potential of celiac disease. The test will indicate an increase in immune proteins associated with celiac disease. If the blood test comes back positive, then an EGD is done in order to obtain a biopsy of the small bowel. The diagnosis of celiac disease is confirmed if the biopsy shows an increase in lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, and blunting of the finger-like projections that absorb nutrients, known as villi. For more information about the procedure click here.
A strict, life-long gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease. There are a lot of naturally gluten-free foods as well as many substitutes. Always check labeling on packages and look for the words “gluten-free” or “GF”. However, it is still important to check the ingredient and allergen list for sources of gluten.
Common Foods to Avoid: Anything containing wheat, rye, or barley
- Sauces/Gravy (flour is often used as a thickener)
- Flour Tortillas
- Pancakes/Waffles/Biscuits/ Toast
- Granola Bars
Click here for GF lunchbox recipes!
GI for Kids is re-establishing the Celi-Act Support Group. If you are recently diagnosed with celiac disease or are in need of support please contact Madden at GI For Kids for more information.
This post was written by Meredith Sterling, DPD student