6 Important Questions You Must Ask If You Suspect You Have Gluten Intolerance Or Celiac Disease

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Signs Of Celiac Disease Symptoms & Gluten Intolerance In Adults & Children

If you suspect that you have celiac disease, then it's likely you've noticed a lot of digestive troubles or other symptoms that lead you to believe that you may have a gluten intolerance.

Celiac disease symptoms and gluten intolerance symptoms often appear similar, and both are caused by your body reacting to grains in your diet.

It's important to know if you have a minor gluten intolerance or celiac disease so you can seek the proper treatment.

So what is celiac disease and how can you tell if you have it and need to go on a gluten-free diet?

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Celiac disease is a long-term autoimmune disorder of the digestive system — primarily the small intestine — that occurs in reaction to gluten, a protein family found in cereal grains including wheat, rye, barley, and hundreds of foods made with these common grains.

According to NIH research, a compromised gut barrier (also called the gut immune barrier or intestinal mucosal barrier) may play a key role in autoimmune disorders such as celiac disease.

In those suffering from celiac, the body mounts an immune response that can lead to damage of the villi, small projections that line the small intestine and promote nutrient absorption.

When the villi are damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body, and celiac symptoms may occur.

Celiac disease, also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, afflicts an estimated 3 million Americans (about 1 in every 133 people).

Celiac disease can affect men and women of all ages and races.

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, if left untreated, celiac disease can also give rise to serious health problems.

This includes other autoimmune disorders such as Type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis (MS), osteoporosis, infertility, and neurological conditions such as epilepsy.

Here are 6 questions you must ask yourself if you or a loved one are showing signs of celiac disease:

1. What are celiac disease symptoms in adults?

Celiac disease symptoms in adults can vary from mild to severe, and some people have no symptoms at all, although they may still be suffering intestinal damage.

Symptoms may include obvious digestive troubles such as:

  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • abdominal bloating and pain
  • vomiting
  • pale, foul-smelling stool

Other lesser-known symptoms of celiac disease may include:

  • anemia
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • osteoporosis
  • infertility or miscarriage
  • mouth ulcers
  • tingling or numbness in the hands and feet

2. When does celiac disease occur?

Celiac disease can occur at any age, even in the elderly. Scientists are not certain why some people develop an immune reaction after years of tolerance to gluten.

Often the symptoms of celiac disease are confused with other health challenges, so perhaps it is not surprising that the average length of time it takes a person with symptoms to be properly diagnosed with celiac disease is four years.

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3. How can I tell if my child has celiac disease?

Celiac disease symptoms can start in childhood, even in infancy, when parents introduce foods containing gluten.

Symptoms of celiac in children can include similar ones to those above: Bloating, pain, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, and irritability.

The disease can lead to slowed growth and failure to thrive. Children with celiac often have teeth that are pitted, grooved, discolored, or poorly formed.

Genetic predisposition is a key factor in one's risk of contracting celiac disease.

Children with a parent or sibling with celiac disease are much more likely to also have celiac.

4. What foods can trigger celiac disease?

Wheat, which contains gluten, is a staple in many cultures across the world.

Many common foods contain wheat and can aggravate celiac disease: Breads, crackers, muffins, pasta, pizza, cakes, pies, and much more.

Chinese seitan and Japanese udon noodles are made from wheat. Fried chicken may be off-limits, due to the breading.

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Rye and barley also contain gluten, so pumpernickel bread, barley soup, and beer often cause problems for those with celiac disease.

5. How can I recognize hidden gluten in foods?

It is important to realize that a wide variety of foods may contain gluten, including processed meat, potato chips, French fries, and many sauces and soups.

Gluten is also present in many non-food products, such as some lipsticks and medicines.

You may be able to eat oats if they are not contaminated with wheat but talk to your health care provider first. Cross-contamination is common.

Wine and distilled alcohol are generally safe, but most beers are not.

Distilled alcohol does not contain any harmful gluten peptides because they are too large to carry over in the distillation process. (Beer is made from grains and does not go through a distilling process.)

6. How can I live with celiac disease once I'm diagnosed?

Many meats, fish, rice, other non-gluten grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables are generally safe for people with celiac disease, as long as they are prepared without ingredients that contain gluten and are not cross-contaminated.

Many restaurants offer gluten-free menu options. Most larger supermarkets carry gluten-free versions of bagels, pasta, pizza, crackers, and cookies.

If you are a celiac sufferer, strict adherence to a gluten-free diet may prevent numerous secondary health problems.

If you don't see improvement in your condition, however, you may need to look for hidden sources of gluten in your lifestyle and also focus on optimizing your gut health through a supplement regimen to address increased intestinal permeability, or "leaky gut syndrome".

You'll also need to talk with your doctor about an individualized health plan.

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Kristina Amelong, CCT, CNC, is an I-ACT certified colon hydrotherapist, nutritional consultant, and the founder of the Optimal Health Network. To find out how she can help you eliminate the damaging symptoms of celiac disease, you can reach out to her on her website for more information.

DISCLAIMER: The material on this page is presented for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or prescribing from a licensed healthcare professional. Consult with your doctor before altering or discontinuing any current medications, treatment, or care, or starting any diet, exercise, cleansing, or supplementation program, or if you have or suspect you might have a health condition that requires medical attention.

This article was originally published at Optimal Health Network. Reprinted with permission from the author.