Celiac Disease Treatment

Gluten, an alcohol-soluble fraction of wheat protein, can cause an array of gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with celiac disease.  Gluten-free diets are the mainstay of treatment to induce and maintain remission in celiac disease.  At Northwest Gastroenterology Clinic, we can diagnose celiac disease and help you transition to a gluten-free lifestyle. Call (503) 229-7137 or contact us online to learn more!

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune disorder that is triggered when a patient’s immune system interacts with gluten in patients genetically predisposed to the disease.    For patients with celiac disease, gluten—found in wheat, barley, rye, and some oats— leads to mucosal inflammation in the small intestine and this damage is mediated by the immune system.  A strong genetic component is associated with the development of CD.

Celiac Disease Symptoms

Patients with celiac disease may be asymptomatic.  Signs and symptoms associated with CD encompass a wide range of gastrointestinal ailments.  These include:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Fatty stools
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Iron deficiency anemia

Extra-intestinal manifestations of the celiac disease may include numbness and tingling and a chronic itchy rash (dermatitis herpetiformis).

Celiac Disease Testing and Diagnosis

If you suspect that you may have celiac disease, several diagnostic approaches exist to confirm whether you have the condition.  A gastroenterologist at Northwest Gastroenterology may perform blood tests to check for antibodies associated with celiac disease.  A biopsy of the small intestine (obtained during an upper endoscopy) may also be pursued to confirm the diagnosis.

Celiac Disease Treatment

If you have celiac disease, treatment with a gluten-free diet and lifestyle is imperative in maintaining remission and in restoring gut health.  An untreated celiac disease may lead to worsening anemia, osteoporosis, infertility, and in rare cases, lymphoma.    While there is no cure for celiac disease, management of CD through a gluten-free diet will help to prevent complications of CD.

A gluten-free diet EXCLUDES:

  • Wheat (including spelt, semolina, durum, and bulgur)
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Triticale, a rye/wheat hybrid
  • Foods or drink processed on equipment that has contact with gluten

Items like toothpaste, make-up, and medications may occasionally contain gluten and lead to inadvertent contamination.   Our gastroenterologists will work with you to recognize and avoid potential sources of gluten.

If you have been experiencing chronic and intermittent gastrointestinal symptoms, celiac disease may need to be ruled out as a potential cause.  To schedule an appointment at Northwest Gastroenterology Clinic to discuss celiac disease diagnosis and treatment, call (503) 229-7137 or contact us online.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is a chronic illness in which the immune system causes inflammation in the small intestine after interaction with gluten.   Gluten is found in wheat, barley, and rye.  Patients can be asymptomatic or have low-grade gastrointestinal symptoms over many years before being diagnosed with celiac disease.   Gastrointestinal symptoms range from nausea, bloating, diarrhea to pain and constipation.

What happens when a person with celiac disease eats gluten?

When a patient with celiac disease eats gluten-containing food, the small intestine becomes inflamed due to mediators in the patient’s own immune system.   Inflammation of the small intestine, an area of the gut where nutrients are absorbed, can lead a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms.

Is celiac disease fatal?

No, celiac disease is not fatal.

Is celiac disease genetic?

Yes, celiac disease is hereditary.