Understanding Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is a digestive condition triggered by eating protein gluten and other proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats.
If a person with celiac disease eats foods containing gluten, a reaction occurs in their small intestine, that causes damage to the surface of their small intestine and developing an inability to absorb certain nutrients.
Eventually, the decreased absorption of nutrients that occurs with celiac disease can cause vitamin deficiencies that deprive the brain, peripheral nervous system, bones, liver and other organs of vital nourishment. This can lead to other illnesses and stunted growth in children.
No treatment can cure celiac disease. However, celiac disease can be effectively managed through diet changes. The exact cause of celiac disease is unknown. The disease can develop at any point in life, from infancy to late adulthood. Those with a family member with celiac disease are at greater risk for developing the disease.
Symptoms of celiac disease vary from person to person. Common symptoms include abdominal pain, abdominal distention, bloating, gas and indigestion. Constipation can be a symptom but so can occasional or chronic diarrhea. Symptoms may also include anemia, bone and joint pain, skin disorders, depression and fatigue.
A Celia and Gluten Intolerance Group is directed by Theresa Hoyles, a Registered Dietition with Clinical Nutrition Services of Memorial Medical Center. The group meets bi-monthly, the second Tuesday of meeting months. The meetings are open, and free, to existing and new members.