CELIAC DISEASE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMSCeliac Disease is also often called gluten enteropathy, gluten-sensitive enteropathy, nontropical sprue, celiac sprue, endemic sprue, and gluten intolerance. It is contracted genetically meaning, the disease runs in families. If you have a family member suffering from Celiac Disease, you will most likely have the disease yourself. At times, different medical conditions trigger the occurrence of the disease. In some patients, Celiac Disease becomes active after surgery, pregnancy and childbirth, viral infection, or severe depression.
The basic symptoms that patients with Celiac Disease experience are diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, and fatigue. There are asymptomatic patients, however, who are not found with the disease until after a series of testing.
CELIAC DISEASE DIAGNOSISThe clinical diagnosis for Celiac Disease is handled through series of blood testing. Your doctor may also examine a portion of your small intestine tissue if he already suspects that you have the disease to confirm it. The tests shall determine your level of affliction. If you have already stopped taking gluten, those tests would be insignificant. This is because the damage caused in your small intestine would be healed after only a week or so of going on a gluten-free diet. Patients who are suspected to have Celiac Disease but have stopped taking gluten earlier are advised to take 10g of the wheat protein a day for two to six weeks before they are submitted for testing.
CELIAC DISEASE TREATMENTOnce you appear positive for Celiac Disease, you will be advised not to take gluten totally for the rest of your life. This disease is a lifelong disorder. It cannot be cured. Treatment options are only there to liberate you from the risks of complications. A drug to control your immune system from acting against gluten is yet to be discovered so for the moment, diet modification is your only choice.
Gluten is present in a handful of wheat, rye, and barley products. It can also be present in some drugs and even vitamins. It is also often used in non-food products such as stamp and envelope adhesives. Gluten is very common in a person’s every day diet. In fact, it places second next only to sugar on the most common ingredients that people consume daily. That is why it is a huge challenge to devise a diet without it. Then there goes the fact that determining gluten inclusion is not that easy. Gluten-free products become vulnerable after coming in contact with foods that contain gluten. Using a knife -- or any kitchen utensil for that matter – that was previously used with a product that contains gluten may already contaminate your food.
Image: Celiac disease
To help you out on your diet, your doctor would naturally refer you to a dietician, who will then brief you regarding safe and unsafe foods. He is your best source for information on ways to protect yourself from gluten without sacrificing the foods that you love. He can make suggestions on several alternatives that will help you continue to enjoy a balanced diet amid the absence of gluten.
Going on a gluten-free diet can be especially hard for young children and teenagers. Not being able to get a hand on pizza, chocolate chip cookies, and cake without caution is an emotional torture on its own. Moreover, the fact that the common gastrointestinal disturbances usually do not go away completely even when you are under treatment adds insult to injury. This is the reason most patients from the young age group get rebellious against off limits foods making them at high risks of relapse.
Other treatments for Celiac Disease are also available but none of them proved to be absolutely effective. Taking immunosuppressants and steroids to go along with the diet, for example, can be helpful in some ways but can be destructive in another. There are treatments more that are under study but they may take a while before they are introduced to the public. Measuring their capacity to control the symptoms of Celiac Disease may take that while even longer. This means that for the meantime, only a gluten-free diet can save you. Unfortunately, even sticking it out on a strict diet may not help a bit. This occurs in patients who had prolonged exposure to the disease prior to diagnosis and in patients who unknowingly consumes gluten continuously. This is why being closely monitored by a doctor after diagnosis is important. Your doctor needs to know your body’s responses to the treatment he has prescribed; your doctor needs to determine the adjustments he must make based on your progress.
Sulking in a corner after being found with Celiac Disease would not help to ease your burden of being kept away from foods that you love. Positive thinking is your best arm against relapse so it is important that you keep yourself near a strong support system always. Also, condition your mind that going on a gluten-free diet is not the end of everything. The truth is, losing the gluten need not to make you suffer. If you would only do your research, you will find that you can still enjoy pizza, chocolate chip cookies, and cakes by using grain substitutes or gluten-free ingredients. In most countries, gluten-free products are made available in groceries and even in restaurants. Reading product labels and asking out require effort. But since this is all in the name of safety, your effort is sure worth it.
Remember, Celiac Disease must not prohibit you from having fun with food. It only asks you to proceed with care. Since you are basically dealing with this condition forever, taking precautions on every thing that you intake should become a habit from now on.
Blood Urea Nitrogen Test
Complete Blood Count Test
Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Liver Function Tests
Magnetic Resonance Imaging