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What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing nutrients properly. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten, a protein composite found in wheat, barley, rye and possibly oats. Many processed food products contain forms of these foods and therefore also contain the gluten protein. Celiac disease is a genetic disorder and can develop at any point of life from infancy to late adulthood.

How Is Celiac Disease Diagnosed?

If celiac disease runs in your family or if you suspect you may have it, talk to you doctor about doing a celiac panel blood test or considering other diagnostics. The blood test will look for high levels of certain antibodies that people with celiac disease produce when consuming foods with gluten. So it is important to continue eating a diet containing gluten before having the blood test, otherwise the test results might be negative even if the disease is present. Following a positive blood test, your doctor may want to conduct an intestinal biopsy, collecting a small sample of the small intestine to check for signs of damage from celiac disease.

What Are The Symptoms Of Celiac Disease?

Gastrointestinal symptoms include: abdominal pain, bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea, decreased appetite, lactose intolerance, nausea, vomiting, and unexplained weight loss. People with celiac disease are to be at higher risk for intestinal cancers, thyroid disease, Addison’s disease, Type I diabetes, and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Because of nutrient malabsorption, symptoms of bruising, fatigue, depression, hair loss, itchy skin, muscle cramps, joint pain, growth delay and attention disorders may also occur.

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