Celiac 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.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.