If you have health issues you are unsure of, here are the early signs and symptoms of celiac disease you may be dealing with.
By Kevin RR Williams
Gluten-Free is Not Just a Diet
We have all heard about gluten intolerance and allergies that can disrupt people’s lives to a degree. However, when certain symptoms become intolerable, it might be a sign of something more serious. Many people experience health issues they cannot explain, and sometimes they turn out to be early signs and symptoms of celiac disease.
The good news is that there are successful ways to treat celiac disease, and once under control, you will feel better than ever. Take a look at some of those symptoms that may encourage you to seek help if you feel you are at risk.
What Is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the small intestine tissues. Triggers include consumption of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. When a person with celiac disease eats gluten, the immune system attacks the small intestine, causing damage to the villi, which are small projections that line the small intestine and help absorb nutrients.
There are many different signs and symptoms of celiac disease, and they can vary significantly from person to person. Some people may have very mild symptoms, while others may have severe symptoms. More surprisingly, some people even have symptoms that are not related to the digestive system at all.
Most Common Early Signs and Symptoms of Celiac Disease
The symptoms typically vary greatly with adults and children. The most common symptoms of celiac disease are digestive in nature. These include:
- Gas and bloating
- Stomach cramps
- Weight loss or failure to gain weight in children
Non-digestive symptoms include:
- Anemia (a low count of red blood cells)
- Bone or joint pain
- Depression or anxiety
- Irritability or behavioral changes in children
- Dermatitis herpetiformis (an itchy, blistering skin rash)
It’s worth noting that many of these symptoms are also common to other conditions, so a medical professional should make a definitive diagnosis of celiac disease. Some people with celiac disease may not have any symptoms at all, which is called asymptomatic celiac disease. Therefore, it’s essential for people who have a family member with celiac disease or a related autoimmune disorder to be screened.
How is Celiac Disease Diagnosed?
Celiac disease is not easy to diagnose because it affects people differently. However, if you suspect you or a loved one may have early signs and symptoms of celiac disease, do not hesitate to see a doctor. If your digestive symptoms last more than two weeks, it is time to talk to a professional. Whatever your symptoms are, it is best to know what you are dealing with as soon as possible because you run a risk of serious long-term complications.
Your doctor will take a thorough medical history, perform a physical examination, and order blood tests to check for antibodies specific to celiac disease. A small intestine biopsy may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis if the blood test is positive.
The principal treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. This means eliminating all sources of gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. This can be difficult and requires careful monitoring, as gluten is found in many common foods like bread, crackers, salad dressings, cakes, pasta, and even beer.
A dietitian or nutritionist can help create a gluten-free meal plan. With the right diet, most people with celiac disease will see a significant improvement in their symptoms, and their small intestines will heal.
Other treatments include dietary supplements, such as vitamins and minerals, to help manage nutritional deficiencies caused by the disease. Medications may also be prescribed to help manage symptoms, such as antacids for acid reflux and pain relievers for abdominal pain. In severe cases, or if the gluten-free diet alone is not effective, those who have celiac disease may consider the use of immunosuppressant or biological drugs.
Needless to say, it is essential to follow up with your doctor regularly and work with a dietitian or nutritionist to ensure adequate nutrient intake while following a gluten-free diet.
Delicious Meal Ideas
Going gluten-free can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to meal options. Some would say that almost everything processed contains gluten. It isn’t far from the truth that, just like with nuts, it is difficult to find products that have not touched gluten.
With a bit of creativity and some research, you can find plenty of delicious and nutritious gluten-free meal options to suit your taste and dietary needs. Once you start the search for gluten-free meal plans, make sure you find a plan you can stick to and not something too complicated to keep up with. Here are some meal options to take into account:
- For breakfast, you can try a gluten-free oatmeal bowl with your favorite toppings, such as berries, nuts, and honey, or a gluten-free smoothie bowl made with almond milk, frozen berries, and a scoop of protein powder
- A simple gluten-free meal option is a salad with mixed greens and a variety of toppings such as grilled chicken, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, and nuts. You can also add a gluten-free dressing, such as balsamic vinaigrette, lemon juice, and olive oil
- Try a stir-fry made with your favorite vegetables and protein, such as chicken or shrimp, and served over quinoa or brown rice. You can also add gluten-free soy sauce or coconut aminos for added flavor
- If you’re craving something a little more indulgent, try a gluten-free pizza made with a cauliflower crust or a gluten-free pasta dish made with zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash. You can also try gluten-free versions of your favorite comfort foods, such as gluten-free mac and cheese or gluten-free chicken and waffles
Overall, going gluten-free doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor or variety. With a bit of creativity and some research, you can find plenty of delicious and nutritious gluten-free meal options to suit your taste and dietary needs.
To Sum Up
Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine caused by gluten consumption. Early signs and symptoms of celiac disease include diarrhea, constipation, anemia, fatigue, bone or joint pain, and many others. It is essential to get an official diagnosis from a doctor and follow a strict gluten-free diet for treatment.
Regardless of how uncomfortable the typical and atypical symptoms may be, celiac disease is something that can be handled with the right attitude and determination. Once you find the treatment and meal plan that works for you, it will become a part of the routine, and the biggest reward will be feeling healthy, happy, and gluten-free.
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