Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease of the small intestine, which means that the body’s immune system has a negative, damaging reaction to the small intestine. In particular, the intestine’s lining.
The disease is triggered by eating foods that contain the wheat protein, gluten. This is an ingredient that can be found in many breads and bread-based products, including breaded foods like fish sticks and chicken. Gluten can also be found in food/drinks such as cereals, marinades, beer and more.
Although there are no standard symptoms of celiac disease, the general complaints of it are diarrhea, bloating and belly pain. However, these can also be signs of other issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease, rather than celiac disease.
In fact, sometimes a person with celiac disease may not even complain of such gastrointestinal symptoms but instead have:
• Skin Rash
• Joint pain/muscle cramps
• Dental problems
• Bone disorders
• Foul-smelling, oily stools
• Indications of malnourishment (stunted growth, weight loss, anemia, etc.)
If you have gastrointestinal issues and/or any of the symptoms listed above, you should consult with your doctor and get celiac blood testing to rule out celiac disease. If left untreated, celiac disease can be fatal.
It is possible to have a gluten allergy or gluten sensitivity rather than celiac disease. In fact, 1 in 30 adults and 1 in 40 children suffer from an allergy to gluten. Getting gluten allergy IgE testing can help you and your doctor rule out a simple allergy as opposed to celiac disease.
Ruling out celiac disease is vitally important due to its health dangers as is controlling your gluten allergy through a gluten-free diet.
Endomysial Antibody, IgA is a blood test that can determine if you have a gluten-related condition called dermatitis herpetiformis, which is an itchy, blistering skin disease that can be mistaken for something as simple as a skin rash or as serious as celiac disease.
With dermatitis herpetiformis, the rash usually appears on the torso, scalp and buttocks. It can cause changes to the lining of the small intestine similar to that of celiac disease without noticeable digestive symptoms. Like celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis is also treated with a gluten-free diet with additional medication to control the rash.
Tissue Transglutaminase, IgA and IgE is a celiac antibody blood test to determine whether or not you are at a high risk for having celiac disease. The test works by helping to detect whether or not you have certain antibodies, which are found in an overwhelming majority of celiac disease cases. Those who test positive should have additional testing.
In fact, all the above tests, which can be purchased online and done anonymously, are performed before having a small intestine biopsy. The biopsy is the only way to confirm celiac disease diagnosis for certain.
Currently, no cure exists for celiac disease. It can be controlled however, by sticking to a strict gluten-free diet. This can be a difficult task considering how many foods actually contain wheat gluten. Not to mention the fact that it can get quite expensive to buy special gluten-free products.
It must be done, though, or the patient with celiac disease can have serious complications, such as cancers, ulcers or collagenous celiac disease, where scar tissue forms on the lining of the small intestine and, like celiac disease, no cure exists. For all three diagnoses, the prognosis is generally poor.
Again, if you have any of the symptoms listed herein, talk to your doctor or obtain an online lab test.