What to Expect After Your Celiac Disease Diagnosis

celiac disease -485705368If you have received a diagnosis from your doctor that confirms you have celiac disease; it is natural to wonder what comes next.  Many doctors will offer guidelines which may include tips to live gluten-free. While these guidelines are essential, it is also very important that you truly understand your medical condition.

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, celiac disease is defined as, “a genetic autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.” It is estimated that the disease affects one in every one hundred people worldwide.  If left untreated, celiac disease can cause long-term health conditions such as gall bladder malfunction, infertility or miscarriage, pancreatic insufficiency, early onset osteoporosis or osteopenia as well as vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

In addition to having a better understanding of celiac disease, educating yourself about the changes to expect in your lifestyle, will prove helpful. Some of the changes include:

  • Discarding of any food that contains gluten. This means sticking to a strict diet that excludes wheat, barley, farina, oats, rye and other items that are known to have gluten.
  • Excluding certain items from your diet may deprive you of some nutrients; it is recommended that you speak to your doctor about which vitamins and dietary supplements you should take.
  • Evaluating the ingredients in medications; some may have small amounts of gluten.
  • Taking care of your body by exercising and implementing more fruits and fresh vegetables into your diet.
  • Following up with your physician or dietitian as recommended. This is important as it will help them to monitor your nutritional intake and check for deficiencies.

Finding resources that can help you transition or stick to new your lifestyle, such as your doctor, support groups, organizations such as the Celiac Disease Foundation or a local hospital can help make life after your celiac diagnosis a little easier.

The Nutritional Services Department at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center supports National Celiac Awareness Day. This observance falls on September 13 of each year and was created to help people learn more about celiac disease and how it impacts lives.  Jamaica Hospital’s registered dietitians assist many patients, including those with celiac disease to grow their knowledge about nutrition, wellness and healthy eating. An appointment with a registered dietitian consists of a comprehensive nutrition assessment, nutrition education, behavior modification counseling and goal setting.

To schedule an appointment, please call 718-206-7001.

September 13th – National Celiac Disease Awareness Day

ThinkstockPhotos-538179807Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestine, preventing the absorption of nutrients from food. It is triggered by the consumption of a protein called gluten, which can be found in wheat, barley, and rye. Approximately one percent of the population suffers from celiac disease and it affects men and women across all ages and races.

Symptoms vary depending on the age of onset, but in general, celiac disease, or gluten intolerance as it is also known, generally results in: abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, poor appetite, lethargy, irritability and depression.

Children with celiac disease fail to gain weight and have a late onset of puberty. Adults with the disease also can develop anemia, joint and bone pain, arthritis, itchy rash, and mouth sores.

Accurately diagnosing celiac disease is difficult because the symptoms are similar to other diseases, but if left untreated, it can lead to serious health risks including infertility, neurological disorders, some cancers, and other auto-immune diseases.

Currently, there is no medication to cure celiac disease. The only way to treat the disease is through a strict, life-long gluten free diet, which means avoiding all foods that contain wheat, rye, and barley. Despite these restrictions, many people with celiac disease can still enjoy a well-balanced diet, with a variety of foods including bread and pasta. Due to increased awareness of celiac disease, there are many gluten-free alternatives now available; in fact sales of gluten-free products are expected to exceed $5 billion in 2015.

September 13th is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day. If you think you or a loved one has celiac disease, make an appointment with your doctor. A series of blood tests can help determine if you have it. If you are diagnosed with celiac disease, together, you, your doctor, and your family can map out a plan to help you live a healthy, gluten-free lifestyle.

If you do not have a doctor, please call Jamaica Hospital’s Family Medicine Center to schedule an appointment at 718-657-7093.