An estimated 1 in 133 Americans, or about 1% of the population, has celiac disease.
May is National Celiac Disease Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about this autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Celiac disease is a genetic disorder in which the immune system reacts abnormally to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. This reaction damages the small intestine, which can lead to malabsorption of nutrients and other health complications.
Symptoms of Celiac Disease
Symptoms of celiac disease can vary widely, and may include gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain, as well as non-gastrointestinal symptoms such as fatigue, anemia, and bone pain. Some people with celiac disease may not experience any symptoms at all. This variability in symptoms can make diagnosis challenging, but early detection and treatment are critical in preventing long-term complications.
Diagnosis of celiac disease typically involves a blood test to look for antibodies to gluten, as well as a biopsy of the small intestine to assess the extent of damage. Treatment for celiac disease involves a lifelong gluten-free diet, which can be challenging but is essential for managing symptoms and preventing further damage to the small intestine. A registered dietitian can provide guidance and support in adopting a gluten-free diet.
If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, following a gluten-free diet is essential for managing symptoms and preventing damage to the small intestine. Here are some health tips to help you maintain a healthy and balanced diet:
Read labels carefully:
Gluten can be hidden in many foods, so it’s important to read labels carefully and look for products that are certified gluten-free.
Look for support:
Living with celiac disease can be challenging, so it’s important to look for support from friends, family, and healthcare providers. Joining a support group or connecting with others online can also be a helpful way to share experiences and get tips for managing the disease.
People with celiac disease may have difficulty absorbing certain nutrients, such as iron and calcium, so talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need supplements to ensure you are getting enough of these nutrients.
Take care of your mental health
Celiac disease can have a significant impact on mental health, and studies have shown that people with celiac disease are at increased risk for depression and anxiety. Taking care of your mental health through activities such as exercise, mindfulness, and talking to a therapist can be an important part of managing the disease.
Watch this video from Dr. Vincent Ho in this detailed 3D animation to find out about Celiac Disease.