You may have asked yourself in the past year or two – as the products seem tend to be springing up right and left: “What is Gluten, anyways?” Gluten is a protein found in Wheat, Barley and Rye. It affects people who have a disease called Celiac Disease. This disease is an immune reaction to consuming Gluten and over time, this disease produces inflammation that damages the lining of the small intestine and may severely prevent absorption of nutrients, leading to malabsorption which can also lead to a host of adverse side effects like extreme weight loss, diarrhea, bloating, damage to many of the organ systems, and eventually brain damage. All of these organ systems are affected in the sense that they do not receive the necessary nutrients to sustain their function.
In addition to the potential damage and shutdown of internal organs, osteoporosis is encouraged in older people and development of children can be greatly hindered. Intestinal irritation is common and stomach pain is followed after nearly every meal with a significant source of gluten. While there is no cure for gluten, it is one of the more manageable diseases in the sense that many products are arriving with gluten-free choices, making coping with Celiac Disease more manageable than it used to be. Diet – the biggest factor with this disease becomes the greatest treatment plan for sufferers.
Celiac Disease has a few trademark symptoms such as diarrhea and weight loss, many people who have the disease still do not experience digestive symptoms. Because of this disease’s tendency to leave the body in a constant state of malabsorption, there are other ways to diagnose the disease.
- Acid reflux, heartburn
- Anemia, usually resulting from iron deficiency
- Damage to dental enamel due to calcium deficiency
- Headaches and fatigue
- Itchy, blistery skin rash
- Joint pain
- Loss of bone density (osteoporosis) or softening of bone (osteomalacia)
- Nervous system injury, including numbness and tingling in the feet and hands, and Problems with balance
- Reduced functioning of the spleen
While these symptoms may have their own independent causes, a combination of two, three or more of these symptoms almost surely can point to Celiac Disease.
If this is the case, it is crucial that you continue your regular diet and immediately consult Arlington Gastroenterology Services to seek treatment, form a diet plan, and regularly check up to track the progress of the disease. The reasoning behind continuation of the regular diet is to sustain the evidence that will be present when you see your AGS Texas doctor. Only try a gluten-free diet after your doctor has instructed you to do so.
If a family member has Celiac Disease, you should have yourself checked while you are at your AGS Texas center in Arlington, because Celiac Disease runs through families. It will also make coping with diet changes easier if more than one family member has the disease.
If you find yourself with any of the specified symptoms and think that you may have Celiac Disease, contact your Arlington Gastroenterology Service specialist to seek diagnosis and treatment. Remember to continue your current diet plan until you are instructed to change it.