Diagnosing And Treating Celiac Sprue

By Izzie • Food, Health • 3 Feb 2014

A gluten allergy is no joke. Also referred to as celiac sprue, gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance, this condition leads to a myriad of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Some symptoms are so mild that a person remains virtually unscathed by the condition and sometimes never really realizes they have it until something more serious occurs, or the dots are somehow connected through a series of on-going minor symptoms.

Gluten is a protein found in grains like barley and rye, not just wheat as is often thought. Gluten allergies start in the digestive tract. Symptoms can range from gastrointestinal conditions like bloating and nausea, to neurological ones, like a reduction in fine motor skills and brain fog.

Diagnosing The Problem

Many people who are allergic to gluten have what is known as Celiac disease. The symptoms can be severe and excruciating. Still, as with all conditions, some people are asymptomatic or may appear to have unrelated symptoms. These factors help make the disease very difficult to diagnose. As such, it is not uncommon for the average American with Celiac disease to remain undiagnosed for up to ten years. Once diagnosed however, patients can thereafter maintain a gluten free lifestyle and watch their symptoms virtually disappear. Additionally, long-term complications and diseases like certain cancers can be averted.

Celiac disease occurs when the immune system attacks the body at the level of the small intestines once gluten has been ingested. One way to conclusively determine if your condition is in fact Celiac disease is to simply get tested. To test for the disease, a gastroenterologist will carry out an intestinal biopsy. This test will show if there in any damage to the villi in the small intestines (villous atrophy). This is where the disease does the most harm. Additionally, patients may have to undergo several blood tests.

So You Have Celiac Disease, Now What

Once diagnosed with Celiac disease, your diagnosis is for life. Your gastroenterologist will get you started on practicing a new way of eating that will begin with reading labels and being aware. Any food with gluten should be avoided at all costs. Thankfully, these days there are a wide variety of foods and substitutes that you can consume, with many new brands. The ‘paleo’ diet is also a gluten free diet, so you can get creative food ideas there as well. Contrary to popular belief, many gluten free foods are easy to find, and actually help create a more diverse diet. Though your new lifestyle may take discipline to maintain, after a while it will be second nature. Soon you will feel better, and reverse many of the symptoms you have been struggling with. And when you accidentally eat gluten, you will quickly learn how important it is to keep it out of your diet!

Finding a gastroenterologist wherever you live is as simple as conducting an internet search. Be sure to do your research and find out who is recommended in your area. This way you can be sure you are getting the best treatment available.

This post provided by a guest contributor from Murray Orbuch, MD, a gastroenterologist in NYC. 

  • Celiac Disease: Symptoms & Treatment
  • New Test to Diagnose Celiac Disease Developed
  • The Skinny on Gluten-Free

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.