Everyone gets a bit of post-meal discomfort from time to time, but if you get severe discomfort frequently after eating anything with gluten, you may have a condition called celiac disease.

Celiac disease causes extreme distress to the digestive system and can result in debilitating pain, not to mention the long-term health complications. In this blog, Kimberley Shine, MD, of Shine Health and Wellness in Pasadena, California, explains what celiac disease is and how you can treat this autoimmune condition.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition wherein your own body launches an immune response to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. After eating gluten, your immune system responds by attacking your small intestine. Specifically, celiac disease damages your villi, the tiny hairlike structures responsible for nutrient absorption. With damaged villi, your body will struggle to absorb nutrients from your food.

Signs and symptoms of celiac disease

Celiac disease is hereditary, meaning it runs in families. If you have a family member who has celiac disease, you’ll have a higher risk of developing the condition.

Aside from knowing your family history, there are a few key signs and symptoms you can look out for in both children and adults, including:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue (often chronic)
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Iron-deficiency anemia
  • Depression or other mood disorders

Other symptoms usually specific to adults include:

  • Bone or joint pain
  • Liver disorders
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Migraines
  • Missed menstrual cycles
  • Tingling, numbness, or burning in the extremities

Sometimes, symptoms of celiac disease are severe enough to preclude patients from going about their everyday activities. Over the long term, celiac disease can lead to permanent damage to the small intestine, which may affect the way you absorb nutrients for a lifetime.

Treating celiac disease

The only known effective treatment for celiac disease is eating a gluten-free diet. If you have celiac disease, Dr. Shine will work with you to find a gluten-free diet that works for your lifestyle and taste buds. In addition to avoiding foods with gluten, you’ll also have to avoid beverages ― including alcohol ― and medications that contain gluten.

Vitamins, minerals, sleep aids, and other over-the-counter supplements may also contain gluten, so it’ll take some due diligence on your part to make sure you avoid these products. But don’t worry, Dr. Shine will guide you every step of the way.

If you have celiac disease and need guidance, or if you want to see if you have celiac disease, we can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Shine Health and Wellness today.

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