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Celiac Disease & Gluten Sensitivity

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What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease (also known as Celiac Sprue) is an immune reaction to eating gluten. For individuals with celiac disease, ingestion of the gluten causes damage to the small intestine, which is where the body absorbs many of its nutrients. It is estimated that one in one hundred people are affected by celiac disease worldwide.

Gluten is a protein that helps foods preserve their shape. It is found in many types of substances, including

  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Durum
  • Einkorn
  • Emmer
  • Farina
  • Faro
  • Fu
  • Gliadin
  • Graham Flour
  • Kamut
  • Matzo
  • Oats
  • Rye
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Triticale
  • Wheat Starch/Bran/Germ

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Symptoms of celiac disease can vary greatly, but some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Abdominal Pain, Gas, and Bloating
  • Chronic Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Delayed Puberty and Growth
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Skin Rash
  • Vomiting
  • Weight Loss

If a patient has malabsorption, he or she may be deficient in certain vitamins such as B12 or fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). If left untreated, celiac disease can bring on a number of adverse side effects, such as fatigue, digestive problems, constant weight loss, and nutritional deficiencies.

How is a Diagnosis  of Celiac Disease Made?

A blood test is a non-invasive screening tool to diagnose celiac disease, but a definitive diagnosis is made by a small bowel biopsy. This is accomplished by performing an upper endoscopy, or EGD, in which a gastroenterologist uses a camera to look at the intestines while the patient is sedated. A biopsy of the small intestine will confirm the diagnosis.

How is Celiac Disease Treated?

Celiac disease is usually treated by changing your diet so that no foods or substances containing gluten are ingested. Once this happens, the symptoms will usually improve within a few weeks or months, depending on their severity. In some rare cases, if the symptoms do not improve following dietary modification, the doctor may need to prescribe an immunosuppressive medication.

Treatment is important because celiac disease can lead to long-term problems. These include osteoporosis, joint problems, and electrolyte and vitamin deficiencies. There is even a small risk of cancer associated with this disease.

What is Gluten Sensitivity? 

Not everyone who has problems with gluten has celiac disease. There is also a condition known as gluten intolerance or sensitivity, which is distinct from celiac. These patients often have similar symptoms but test negative for celiac disease. Gluten intolerance can cause gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and other similar symptoms, but does not include the long-term risks associated with celiac disease.

Treatment for gluten sensitivity is the same as for celiac disease: the avoidance of gluten. Unfortunately, there is no test to prove that a patient has gluten sensitivity. The diagnosis is made based on medical history and ruling out true celiac disease.

What Does a Gluten-Free Diet Look Like? 

There is a myriad of delicious replacements to gluten on the majority of menus. Plenty of foods are naturally gluten-free, including:

  • Beans
  • Chicken
  • Corn
  • Diary Products
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Fruits
  • Lean Beef
  • Legumes
  • Rice
  • Vegetables

Questions about Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity?

If you have any questions about celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, or if you suspect that it may be affecting you, we encourage you to reach out to us at Digestive Healthcare Center. Our doctors are experts in recognizing and treating digestive health conditions in New Jersey, and will work with you to determine their cause and provide relief. If you can’t make it to one of our offices, we offer convenient telemedicine virtual visits where you can meet with a DHC physician from the comfort of your own home. To schedule an appointment or to learn more about our gastroenterology services, please contact us today.

Meet Our Doctors

Our Gastroenterology Centers in NJ

Hillsborough, NJ

511 Courtyard Drive Bldg. 500

Hillsborough, NJ 08844

Somerville, NJ

319 East Main Street

Somerville, NJ 08876

Warren, NJ

31 Mountain Boulevard Suite H 

Warren, NJ 07059

Recent Blogs

Learn more about all things digestive health and wellness by checking out our recent gastroenterology blogs.

Digestive Healthcare Center logo
December 4, 2020
COVID-19 Update

To all our valued patients at Digestive Healthcare Center and Central Jersey Ambulatory Surgical Center Your health and safety are important to us. To help protect patients and staff, we have designated Digestive Healthcare Center and Central Jersey Ambulatory Surgical Center as a Patient and Staff “SAFE ZONE.” Our SAFE ZONE is defined by the safety […]

Doctor writing the word colonoscopy
October 1, 2020
Colorectal Cancer Screening: What You Should Know

What is Colorectal Cancer? At Digestive Healthcare Center, our team of expert gastroenterologists strives to ensure that patients have all the information they need to promote long term digestive health. In the case of certain gastroenterological conditions such as colorectal cancer, screening is incredibly important. Colorectal cancer starts in the colon (large intestine) or rectum. […]

gastroparesis awareness month banner
August 7, 2020
Gastroparesis Awareness Month – Learn More from DHC

What is Gastroparesis? At Digestive Healthcare Center, we want to ensure that patients have information about an array of digestive health conditions, to promote positive gastrointestinal health year-round. One such condition is gastroparesis, which is a digestive condition that affects the motility of the muscles in your stomach. Normally, after you swallow, the muscles within […]

Digestive Health Care and Treatment in New Jersey

We are proud to provide comprehensive digestive health care to those in Somerset County and the surrounding areas. Most of our procedures are performed at our Hillsborough office and surgical center, but we also see patients at our offices in Somerville and Warren. We look forward to helping you stay on top of your digestive health!

About Telemedicine Visits

We are proud to offer telemedicine care to patients throughout NJ, allowing patients to consult with one of our expert gastroenterologists via a two-way video call. Setting up and completing a telemedicine visit is extremely simple, and all you need to do to get started is give one of our offices a call or contact us by filling out a form.