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What Is Celiac Disease?

You’ve probably heard all the hype over gluten sensitivity. It seems everyone is eliminating gluten these days to be healthier, lose weight, or even be a better athlete. What is the scoop on gluten sensitivity, anyway? The House Call Doctor is in

By
Sanaz Majd, MD,
February 12, 2014
Episode #114

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What Is Celiac Disease?

You’ve probably heard all the hype over gluten sensitivity recently. You may have a friend who has advised you to try mitigating your abdominal discomfort and diarrhea by cutting out gluten, or perhaps you saw Nutrition Diva’s episode on gluten-free diets. What is the scoop on gluten sensitivity, anyway? 

Well, people who have true gluten sensitivity actually suffer from something called Celiac disease, sometimes referred to as “Celiac sprue.” Let’s learn about it today.

What is Celiac Disease?

About 1% of the general population currently suffers from Celiac disease. However, this number is likely underestimated due to patients who currently remain undiagnosed. Other common gastrointestinal problems, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), can mimic Celiac and these patients may not realize they have it unless their doctor screens them for it specifically.

Celiac disease has a genetic component, and can be passed down from your parents. It can present at any age, and is sometimes diagnosed later on in life as an adult. People with Celiac have sensitivity to gluten in their diet. Gluten is a protein found in barley, rye, and wheat products, and when it is ingested, it triggers an immune system response in people who cannot tolerate the protein. The immune system causes inflammation in the small intestines which can lead to a number of health concerns.

What Are the Symptoms of Celiac Disease?

When your small intestines become inflamed and angry as a result of being exposed to gluten, patients with Celiac experience the following common symptoms:

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