What is Celiac Disease?
What is Celiac Disease? It’s an autoimmune disorder in which the body is unable to process gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley and rye). Consuming gluten as someone with Celiac Disease, the body begins to attack the small intestine. This attack leads to damage of the villi, which are small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, and are meant to promote nutrient absorption. When these villi get damaged, nutrients are unable to be absorbed properly into the body. Think of it this way, no matter how healthy your diet is, you’re malnourished.
Is it Hereditary?
Celiac Disease is hereditary and there is a 1 in 10 chance of first degree relatives developing it. If you have this disease or have a family member that does and you don’t feel right, get checked out. More importantly ( in my opinion), if a family member has Celiac Disease and your child is having difficulty with foods and belly aches, get them check out. Be their advocate and don’t chalk it up to whining. I say this for a few reasons – stop the suffering early on if you can, but also know malnourishment during childhood can lead to stunted growth.
Symptoms of Celiac Disease in Children
From the Celiac Disease Foundation, these are the symptoms to look for in children. It’s important to note digestive symptoms are far more common in infants and children.
- abdominal bloating and pain
- chronic diarrhea
- pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
- weight loss
- irritability and behavioral issues
- dental enamel defects of the permanent teeth
- delayed growth and puberty
- short stature
- failure to thrive
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Symptoms of Celiac Disease in Adults
From the Celiac Disease Foundation, these are the symptoms to look for in adults. Digestive symptoms are less common in adults, with only about a third experiencing diarrhea. The below listed symptoms are most commonly found in adults.
unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
bone or joint pain
osteoporosis or osteopenia (bone loss)
- liver and biliary tract disorders (transaminitis, fatty liver, primary sclerosing cholangitis, etc.)
depression or anxiety
peripheral neuropathy ( tingling, numbness or pain in the hands and feet)
seizures or migraines
missed menstrual periods
infertility or recurrent miscarriage
canker sores inside the mouth
dermatitis herpetiformis (itchy skin rash)
What Does All of This Even Mean?
I’m sure those lists of symptoms have you analyzing your body, or your child’s body, even more than before. It’s important to remember nobody will ever fit inside a single box. You probably won’t even have most of the listed symptoms, but that’s because we are all so different. We’re individuals and things impact our bodies differently.
If you suspect this could be the cause of your troubles, I urge you to speak with your provider before making any changes in your diet. It takes between 30-90 days to eliminate gluten from your body after removing it from your diet. If you make changes before seeking testing, it could impact your test results, and delay getting answers.
Living life gluten free isn’t as scary as it sounds, you simply have to learn something new.
Does Any of This Speak to You?
I know this a lot to take in, and your head is likely spinning by now, but I encourage you to continue digging if any of this speaks to you. Thankfully, a lot has changed in the world of living gluten free, which only helps ease the transition. Overtime, I promise you all of this will become second-nature, and you’ll be helping others before you know it.
I am not a medical provider and have no medical expertise, I’m simply sharing my Celiac Disease and Gluten Free journey with those I meet along the way. Please seek guidance from your provider before making any changes, as a gluten free diet before blood testing can skew your results. Always remember, the greatest advocate you or your child will ever have is YOU – speak up and continue seeking answers to your questions until you’re satisfied.