What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which an immune response to gluten causes damage to the lining of the small intestine. Gluten is a protein found in foods containing wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten can also be found in some personal care products, like lipstick or dental materials.
With celiac disease, prolonged and repeated exposure to gluten results in an attack on intestinal villi. Villi are hair-like structures in the small intestine that absorb nutrients. Damage to the villi leads to chronic inflammation and malabsorption of essential nutrients.
If you have celiac disease, it is necessary to completely remove gluten from your diet. For most people with celiac disease, symptoms resolve over time with the avoidance of gluten. Knowing the symptoms of celiac disease may help in receiving a diagnosis sooner.
Who Gets Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease affects over two million people in the United States. Celiac disease is more common in women, people who have a prior autoimmune disease, and who are white or of European descent. Only people who carry one or both of two gene variants can develop celiac disease.
If you do not have the gene variant associated with celiac disease but are experiencing celiac symptoms, you may have non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). NCGS does not trigger the same autoimmune response in the small intestine.
If you suspect you have Celiac disease or NCGS, here are some common symptoms to look out for.
What are the Symptoms of Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease directly affects the intestines, and so many of its symptoms involve the digestive tract.
Digestive symptoms of celiac disease may include:
- Abdominal pain
Many adults with celiac disease experience primary symptoms that do involve the digestive tract. Non-digestive symptoms occur as a result of chronic inflammation and inadequate nutrient absorption.
Celiac disease symptoms related to malabsorption:
- Oily, loose stool
- Weight loss
- Iron deficiency
- Dental erosion
- Nutrient deficiencies, like vitamin D deficiency
Celiac disease symptoms related to the skin, pain, and nervous system:
- Mouth ulcerations
- A skin rash known as dermatitis herpetiformis
- Joint pain
- Brain fog
- Numbness or tingling
- Other psychiatric disorders
Are There Other Risk Factors of Celiac Disease?
People with celiac disease might be at risk of having other conditions, including
- Other autoimmune conditions
- Heart disease
- Type 1 diabetes
- Thyroid disease
If you have silent celiac disease (celiac disease without symptoms), you may be damaging your intestines with further ingestion of gluten.
What Should I Do if I Have Celiac Disease?
Many celiac symptoms can mimic other conditions and it can often take years to uncover a proper diagnosis. However, unlike many other autoimmune conditions, testing for celiac disease can be simple and conclusive. Speak to your doctor if you suspect you have symptoms of celiac disease.
Typically, the first step for determining celiac disease is a blood test screening that includes a panel of serum antibody tests. The serum antibody test is conducted to assess the body’s reaction to gluten. The test is sometimes combined with biopsy testing via endoscopy to check the status of the intestinal villi.
If you have a first-degree relative with celiac disease, then you have a 1-in-10 risk of also being diagnosed. Autoimmune disease will often run in families. Testing is recommended.
How Does Mymee Help With Symptoms of Celiac Disease?
Mymee’s program can help alleviate symptoms of people with celiac disease and suspected gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance.
With Mymee, clients track day-to-day dietary and environmental factors in an easy-to-use mobile app. A dedicated health coach helps to investigate and confirm symptom triggers. Plus, they provide tailored plans for feeling better that include supplement support, stress management techniques, and more.
Mymee health coaches are autoimmune disease experts. They can help determine which autoimmune-like symptoms are related to gluten-ingestion and which are not. Furthermore, they can help find less-than-obvious sources of gluten and detect other food sensitivities.
If you have celiac disease, you are at increased risk of having additional sensitivities to foods. For example, the body can confuse common items like coffee, rice, and corn with gluten and respond symptomatically. Your Mymee coach can weed through your diet, systematically, to help find the culprit of lingering symptoms.
Finally, if you’re new to a gluten-free diet, your Mymee coach can help make your dietary transition easier. Health coaches have nutritional expertise and can provide resources for tasty replacements. Plus, they take into account foods to reduce inflammation, heal your gut lining, strengthen your immune system, and help you feel your best.