Sunday, February 19, 2006

Overview of Celiac Disease

Since many of you had never heard of celiac disease, here's is a very short overview with the blood test for the antibody which was discovered about three years ago. 

Megan was diagnosed with IBS, irritable bowel syndrome, when she was 12, although now I suspect she was misdiagnosed.  Since the antibody was discovered, people being diagnosed with celiac is growing in leaps and bounds.

One symptom not listed which the specialists looked for instantly were mouth ulcers.  Not just normal mouth ulcers but huge craters.  Megan suffered for years from these.  So large and painful, her face would swell.  This is also a symptom. 

Gluten is recognized as a foreign substance and attacks the villi in the small bowel.  These are hair-like projections that absorb all our nutrients.  Her small bowel was smooth, meaning the villi were gone.  They do grow back after a certain amount of time on the gluten-free diet.  In December, her blood test was antibody free meaning she is celiac free at the present time.  The diet is a lifelong diet.

The osteoporosis is from not absorbing calcium even though she is a milk lover.  I'm not quite sure how the thyroid is damaged but is very common among celiac disease sufferers.

I was aware of celiac disease or celiac sprue, as it was once called, from years of medical transcription.

Many, many people diagnosed with IBS are now getting tested for celiac and being found positive.

I shop at Whole Foods for Megan.  There is extensive gluten free products, breads, pretzels, pizza, etc.  The that's another thing but as more are diagnosed the cost will become lower.

The only treatment is a gluten-free diet but the good news is it goes away if the diet is followed. 

A lifesaver was the dietitician who we were referred to who is also celiac.  He had compiled a book of regular foods in the stores that are gluten-free.  Heinz, Kraft, and many other major companies are now clearly labeling foods with wheat.

Restaurants have special gluten-free menus or menus of the foods they serve that are gluten-free.  Most of the major restaurants have them now.

Megan asked at the Cheesecake Factory.  They were well aware of celiac and have a gluten-free raspberry chocolate cheesecake.  She was ecstatic.

So, although we were reeling in June; in fact, it was the day after her 19th birthday, things are ok.  Megan has dealt with it like a trooper.  She will ask to speak to the cooks or chefs at restaurants.  They are more than willing to specially cook her food.

Her college now has 26 sufferers, up from 1 two years ago.  The cafeteria has a special celiac kitchen because of cross contamination.  If I would stir a pot of normal pasta and then use it to stir her's been exposed to wheat.

So, if you know anyone who continues to suffer GI problems with no relief from any medication, it is worth the simple blood test below.  If left untreated, gluten will totally destroy the small intestine.


Celiac disease is an immune system disorder that results in damage to the lining of the small intestineClick here to see an illustration. when foods with gluten are eaten. Glutens are a form of protein found in some grains—notably wheat, barley, and rye. The damage to the intestine makes it hard for the body to absorb nutrients, especially fat, calcium, iron, and folate. Celiac disease also may be called celiac sprue, gluten-sensitive enteropathy, or nontropical sprue.

Symptoms of celiac disease occur from intestinal damage after eating foods containing gluten. Symptoms vary widely; they may be very mild and go completely unnoticed, or they may be severe and impact daily life.

Common symptoms related to celiac disease may come and go. They include:

  • Gas, abdominal swelling, and bloating. These symptoms result from a failure of the smallClick here to see an illustration. and largeClick here to see an illustration. intestines to absorb nutrients from food. You may also have mild stomach pain, but it is usually not severe.
  • Abnormal stools. Diarrhea or bulky, loose (or watery), pale, frothy, and foul-smelling stools often occur. The stools may contain a large amount of fat and may stick to the sides of the toilet bowl, making them hard to flush. Although children and adults often experience the same types of symptoms, intestinal problems are more likely to occur in children.
  • Weight loss. Adults and children may have unexplained weight loss despite having a normal appetite. Younger children may fail to gain weight and grow as expected, a condition known as failure to thrive.
  • Fatigue and weakness. Celiac disease can result in a general lack of energy and strength. Sometimes poor nutrient absorption causes fatigue and weakness. These symptoms may also be related to iron-deficiency anemia, which occurs more frequently in adults than children.
  • Vomiting. Some people may get sick after eating gluten; children are more likely than adults to have this reaction.

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Recently, researchers discovered that people with celiac disease have higher than normal levels of certain autoantibodies in their blood. Antibodies are protective proteins produced by the immune system in response to substances that the body perceives to be threatening. Autoantibodies are proteins that react against the body's own molecules or tissues. To diagnose celiac disease, physicians will usually test blood to measure levels of

  • Immunoglobulin A (IgA)
  • anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTGA)
  • IgA anti-endomysium antibodies (AEA)
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chat2missie said...

Thanks for sharing that info with us.

nightmaremom said...

Thanks for the info

jckfrstross said...

thank you so much for the info :)


pennietoonz said...

Hi Chris, I read it all since I have never heard of this condition until you started talking about it. I`m glad to hear that Megan deals with it well and is not afraid to talk to the cooks and chefs. Good for her.
Love ya..

lv2trnscrb said...

thanks for the info, Chris. That is so sad that Megan has osteoporosis at such a young age. Is she on anything to help prevent further bone loss?


debbted said...

Chris~Never heard of that and I do have IBS. What a thing to admit..heehee; I don't have a lot of the other symtoms so I think I am ok on Celiac. Glad Meagan is adjusting--prolly helped a lot finding that gluten-free cheesecake! ;-) Sass

thegirlnexdoor77 said...

I think I will ask for my son to have that test.  he is always getting sick and often leaves the dinner table feeling sick.  He has complained of sores in his throat for as long as I can remember..  Thanks for  the info on the subject.  Trista was told she has IBS.  Take Care. TerryAnn.

xxroxymamaxx said...

Very very interesting.  Is Megan thin?  Just wondering because one of the symptoms was not being able to gain weight, but with the thyroid problem usually peeps are overweight.  I cannot gain weight, no matter how much I eat.  I have even tried weight gain stuff....did not work.  I have been the same weight for over 20 years.  Ryan was laughing at me just this morning because I said I'm too skinny and he said I need to lift weights.  ewww...muscle woman. lol   GBU, Shelly

shayshaydc said...

Wow... I have never heard of that until you mentioned it!! Glad Megan has learned to manage with it!!