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Celiac Disease

Gastrointestinal Associates of Rockland

Gastroenterologists located in New City, NY

If eating bread causes symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, you may have celiac disease, an immune system reaction to gluten, a protein found in many grains. When left untreated, celiac disease can cause lasting damage to your small intestine. The specialists at Gastrointestinal Associates of Rockland in New City, New York, diagnose celiac disease and help you manage your symptoms through a gluten-free diet. Schedule an appointment online or over the phone.

Celiac Disease Q & A

What is celiac disease?

If you have celiac disease, your digestive system can’t tolerate gluten, a protein found in grains including wheat, barley, and rye. 

The gluten causes an immune system reaction, and if you continue to eat gluten despite the celiac disease, you can damage your small intestine, preventing it from properly absorbing nutrients.

What are the symptoms of celiac disease?

When you have celiac disease, exposure to gluten can cause a range of digestive symptoms, including diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain. There are also several signs and symptoms of celiac disease that aren’t digestive, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Itchy, blistering rashes
  • Canker sores
  • Osteoporosis 
  • Iron deficiency anemia 
  • Nervous system injuries, including numbness and tingling

Many people with celiac disease don’t know they have it. The symptoms vary widely from person to person, and it can take years before you see signs of damage to your small intestine.

Schedule an appointment at Gastrointestinal Associates of Rockland if you have any concerning digestive symptoms, or if you have non-digestive symptoms that aren’t explained by other conditions. Celiac disease often runs in families, so if you have a family member with the condition, ask your doctor if you should be tested.

How is celiac disease diagnosed?

Your doctor at Gastrointestinal Associates of Rockland diagnoses celiac disease through two blood tests:

  • Serology testing, which looks for certain antibodies that indicate an immune reaction to gluten
  • Genetic testing, which looks for specific genes that are present in nearly all people with celiac disease

To get an accurate diagnosis, it’s important not to follow a gluten-free diet before your serology test. If you eliminate gluten from your diet beforehand, the results may look normal, even if you have celiac disease.

If your blood tests indicate celiac disease, your doctor usually orders an endoscopy to look for damage to your small intestine.

How is celiac disease treated?

There’s no cure for celiac disease, but you can manage your symptoms and avoid damaging your small intestine by avoiding exposure to gluten. Your doctor works with you to create a gluten-free diet plan. To fill in any nutritional gaps, this plan may include supplements.

Gluten is found in many foods, some of which may surprise you, including soups, salad dressings, and food labeled as “wheat free.” It’s also found in a number of non-food products, including certain cosmetics, toothpastes, and medications.

Your doctor may recommend checking labels and keeping a diary of the foods you eat and the products you use so you can avoid accidentally setting off symptoms. It’s also important to check the labels of products before using them.

To get help managing celiac disease, schedule an appointment at Gastrointestinal Associates of Rockland online or over the phone.