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Celiac Disease Specialists in Concord, NC

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine that, over time, can cause damaging inflammation to the intestinal lining.

Common Symptoms Of Celiac Disease

Classic signs of celiac disease are diarrhea and weight loss, but many people experience few if any, digestive symptoms. Other signs of the disease include:

  • Fatigue or paleness (resulting from anemia)
  • Loss of bone density (osteoporosis)
  • Itchy, blistery skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)

Common Causes Of Celiac Disease in Concord

The cause of celiac disease isn't known. When the body's immune system overreacts to gluten, the reaction damages the small intestine lining. It often goes undiagnosed, but the National Institutes of Health estimates about 1 in 141 people in the U.S. have celiac disease. It can affect anyone but tends to be more common in people who have type 1 diabetes, microscopic colitis, or who have a family member with celiac.

How To Get Diagnosed

There are various tests and procedures used to diagnose celiac disease, including:

  • Blood tests. Elevated levels of certain antibodies in your blood can detect celiac disease even if you have few or no symptoms.
  • Endoscopy. Your provider may order an endoscopy to view your small intestine.

Are There Any Risk Factors For Celiac Disease

Certain factors can increase the risk that someone will develop celiac disease. These risk factors include:

  • A family member with celiac disease or the bumpy, itchy rash known as dermatitis herpetiformis
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Autoimmune thyroid disease
  • Down syndrome or Turner syndrome
  • Addison’s disease
  • Inflammation of the large intestine, known as microscopic colitis

Possible Complications of Celiac Disease

Left undiagnosed and untreated, celiac disease can cause long-term health complications, such as:

  • Malnutrition – occurs when the small intestine cannot absorb enough nutrients to feed the body; malnutrition can lead to slow growth and short stature in children, along with anemia and weight loss in adults or children.
  • Weakened bones – poor absorption of calcium and vitamin D can lead to a loss of bone density (osteopenia or osteoporosis) in adults and a softening of the bone (rickets) in children.
  • Infertility and miscarriage – malabsorption of calcium and vitamin D can contribute to these reproductive problems.
  • Lactose intolerance – intestinal damage from celiac disease may cause abdominal pain and diarrhea after consuming dairy products containing lactose; lactose intolerance may disappear after the intestine has healed.
  • Cancer – people with celiac disease who continue to consume gluten have a greater risk of developing certain forms of cancer, although developing cancer due to celiac is quite rare.
  • Nervous system problems – some people with celiac disease can experience neurological complications, such as seizures, headache, and peripheral neuropathy, which causes weakness, numbness, and pain in the hands or feet.

What is The Treatment for Celiac Disease in NC

A gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease and is essential for successful management. It's important to be tested before trying a gluten-free diet. Eliminating gluten from your diet before diagnosis may change the result of blood tests.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you develop celiac disease?

Yes, individuals can develop celiac disease at any age, although it is often diagnosed in childhood. There appears to be a genetic predisposition, and environmental factors, such as stress or infections, may trigger the onset of the disease in genetically susceptible individuals. Being aware of symptoms like digestive issues, fatigue, or unexplained weight loss is important for prompt diagnosis and management.

Is celiac an autoimmune disease?

Yes, celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. In individuals with Celiac Disease, the ingestion of gluten triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine lining. This autoimmune reaction can lead to various symptoms and complications. Strict adherence to a gluten-free diet is the primary treatment to manage the autoimmune response and alleviate symptoms.

What is an autoimmune disease?

An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's tissues, considering them foreign invaders. This abnormal immune response can lead to inflammation and damage in various organs or systems. In the case of celiac disease, the immune system reacts to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, damaging the small intestine lining.

What causes celiac disease later in life?

While celiac disease is often diagnosed in childhood, it can develop at any age, including later in life. Genetic factors play a role, and certain triggers, such as infections, surgery, pregnancy, or significant stress, may contribute to the onset of celiac disease in genetically predisposed individuals. Understanding potential risk factors can aid in timely diagnosis and management.

Is celiac disease fatal?

Celiac disease itself is not typically fatal, but if left untreated or undiagnosed, it can lead to severe complications and negatively impact overall health. Chronic inflammation and damage to the small intestine can result in malabsorption of nutrients, leading to nutritional deficiencies. Adhering to a strict gluten-free diet is crucial in managing Celiac Disease and preventing associated complications.

Can celiac disease go away?

Celiac disease is a chronic condition that does not go away. However, strict adherence to a gluten-free diet can effectively manage symptoms and promote healing of the small intestine lining. Individuals with Celiac Disease need to maintain a gluten-free lifestyle to prevent ongoing damage and associated health complications.

Is celiac disease a disability?

In some cases, Celiac disease may be considered a disability, particularly if it substantially limits a person's ability to perform major life activities. Legal recognition of celiac disease as a disability varies by jurisdiction. Individuals experiencing challenges due to celiac disease may explore accommodations and protections available under disability laws.

Is celiac disease hereditary?

Yes, celiac disease has a strong genetic component. Individuals with a family history of the condition, especially first-degree relatives like parents or siblings, have an increased risk of developing celiac disease. Genetic testing can help identify susceptibility, but not everyone with the genetic markers develops the disease, indicating that environmental factors also play a role.

What happens if you eat gluten with celiac disease long-term?

Consuming gluten in the long term with celiac disease can lead to persistent damage to the small intestine lining. This chronic inflammation may cause malabsorption of nutrients, leading to nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, and an increased risk of other autoimmune disorders. Long-term exposure to gluten can contribute to serious health complications, highlighting the importance of maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle for individuals with celiac disease.

Does celiac disease cause weight gain?

No, celiac disease typically does not cause weight gain. One of the common symptoms of untreated or undiagnosed Celiac Disease is unexplained weight loss. The inflammation and damage to the small intestine lining interfere with the absorption of nutrients, leading to malabsorption and weight loss. People with celiac disease often experience gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating, rather than weight gain.

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Northeast Digestive Health Center
1070 Vinehaven Drive NE
Concord, North Carolina 28025
Phone: (704)783-1840
Fax: (704)783-1850
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