Gluten Intolerance Group®
Of Augusta Georgia
Celiac disease (CD) is also referred to as gluten sensitive enteropathy
(GSE), gluten intolerance, or celiac sprue. It is considered to be the
most under-diagnosed common disease today, potentially affecting 1 in
every 133 people in the USA. It is a chronic, inherited disease, and if
untreated can ultimately lead to malnutrition. Gluten intolerance is the
result of an immune-mediated response to the ingestion of gluten (from
wheat, rye, and barley) that damages the small intestine. Nutrients then
quickly passed through the small intestine, rather than being absorbed. To
develop celiac disease (CD) three (3) things must be present: 1) you must
inherit the gene, 2) consume gluten, and 3) have the gene triggered.
Common triggers may include stress, trauma (surgeries, pregnancy, etc.),
and viral infections. Approximately 1 in 20 first-degree relatives could
have CD triggered in their lifetime. The disease is permanent and damage
to the small intestine will occur every time you consume gluten,
regardless if symptoms are present.
Celiac disease was once thought of a disease with only GI symptoms. It
is now recognized that the disease is a multi-symptom, multi-system
(organ) disease. Celiac disease also does not routinely present with the
'textbook' symptoms that physicians learn. More often it presents with
symptoms that can mimic other problems.
Initial screening for CD is a blood test taken by your physician. The test can be referred to as a Celiac Panel or by the names of the individual tests. To provide the most accurate information, the blood test should include the following tests:
Tissue Transglutaminase IgA and IgG (tTG-IgA and IgG)
or Anti-endomysial Antibodies IgA (EMA IgA)
IgA Deficiency Test
These tests are very sensitive and specific for celiac disease. A
gastroenterologist takes small intestine tissue biopsies if the results of
the antibody test(s) are positive or he/she has a strong suspicion of CD.
A biopsy showing damaged villi in the small intestine is the first half of
the 'Gold Standard' to diagnosing CD. The second half of the 'Gold
Standard' is improvement of health with the gluten-free diet.
Strict adherence to a gluten-free diet for life is the only treatment currently available. This involves the elimination of wheat, rye, barley, and derivatives of these grains from your diet. Medication is not normally required, unless there is an accompanying condition, e.g. osteoporosis, dermatitis herpetiformis, etc. Thriving, showing improvement and return of health on the gluten-free diet is the second half of the 'gold standard' of being diagnosed with CD.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor:
Should I take nutritional supplements?
PrognosisExcellent, if you stay on the gluten-free diet. The small intestine will steadily heal and start absorbing the needed nutrients. You should start feeling better almost immediately; however, complete recovery may take several months to years.
Dermatitis herpetiformis is also present in some people with celiac
disease. Other autoimmune disorders that people with CD are at greater
risk to develop include Addison' s disease, autoimmune chronic active
hepatitis, Alopecia Areata, Graves' disease, insulin-dependent diabetes
mellitus (type 1), myasthenia gravis, scleroderma, Sjogren's syndrome,
lupus, and thyroid disease. Thyroid diseases and diabetes are the two most
commonly associated diseases found with celiac disease. Thyroid disease is
most commonly associated with DH.
© 2008 Gluten Intolerance Group® of North America. All rights reserved.