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  • Dr. Lesa Lawson

Wondering if You Have Might Celiac? How to Tell

What is Celiac disease?

Celiac disease (also called celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy) is a digestive disorder that causes an inability to absorb nutrients, fat, vitamins and minerals from food. This inability stems from damage to the lining of the small intestine caused by the reaction of the immune system to the protein gluten in food.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a form of protein that is found in some grains. The major foods that contain celiac are wheat, barley, and rye flour. There is a host of foods that contain these and other triggers, however. Joy Bauer provides an extensive list on her website:

Why or How Does Celiac Develop?

The immune system protects the body from foreign matter. People with celiac disease develop inflammation in the stomach area when they eat foods that contain gluten. When the immune system encounters gluten, it forms antibodies to gluten. An antibody is a blood protein that is produced to counteract a specific antigen. Antibodies combine chemically with substances that the body recognizes as alien, such as bacteria, viruses, and foreign substances in the blood.

According to, the antibodies, when formed, attack the lining of the intestines, create inflammation in the intestines and damage the villi, the hair-like structures on the lining of the small intestine. The job of the villi is to absorb nutrients from food. If the villi are damaged, that person cannot absorb nutrients properly. Malnourishment is an end-result for that person regardless of how much he or she eats. []

Some Symptoms of Celiac Disease

  • Anemia (iron deficiency or low blood count)

  • Aphthous ulcers (sores in the mouth) or skin rash

  • Digestive problems, such as stomach pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea,

  • Growth problems and failure to thrive (in children)

  • Missed menstrual periods or difficulty becoming pregnant

  • Musculoskeletal problems (bone loss, muscle cramps, joint and bone pain)

  • Numbness or tingling sensation in the legs (caused by nerve damage and low calcium)

  • Seizures

  • Weakness and lack of energy

  • Weight loss

What to Do if You Have Enough Symptoms to Wonder

See your doctor! Do not try to diagnose yourself. Your doctor will run the necessary tests to determine if your suspicions are correct. In the meantime, try avoiding those trigger foods and see if you notice an improvement. Keep a food diary and log what you eat and your response to it.

If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, how have you been handling it?

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