If you have celiac disease, your body overreacts to gluten, damaging your small intestine and causing nutritional deficiencies. The experienced team at G.I. Medicine Associates, P.C. accurately diagnoses celiac disease, helps you follow a gluten-free diet, and provides additional medical care for severe intestinal damage. If you have questions about digestive symptoms or want to schedule an appointment, call the office in St. Clair Shores or Macomb, Michigan.
Celiac disease, also called celiac sprue or gluten-induced enteropathy, is a chronic inflammatory condition that damages the small intestine. The injuries occur every time you eat gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.
When gluten enters the small intestine, your immune system reacts and attacks the healthy intestinal lining. The immune attack causes inflammation that harms small structures in the intestinal lining called villi. As a result, you develop two serious problems:
Villi have the essential job of absorbing nutrients. Once damaged, they can’t take in the nutrients your body needs. By the time most people are diagnosed with celiac disease, they have deficiencies in nutrients such as zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin B12, and folate.
If you keep consuming gluten, the ongoing inflammation breaks down the protective gastrointestinal barrier. After the barrier is breached, inflammation and toxic substances that normally don’t pass through the barrier get into your bloodstream. Then they spread throughout your body, causing a wide range of symptoms.
Your symptoms may range from mild to severe, depending on the amount of gluten you eat and the intestinal damage. The most common symptoms include:
You may also develop symptoms throughout your body. Depending on the body area affected, you may experience problems such as:
You could also have symptoms of a specific nutritional deficiency. For example, you may develop fatigue due to iron deficiency anemia.
After reviewing your symptoms and completing a physical exam, your provider runs diagnostic tests. They typically run blood tests and may perform a capsule endoscopy or upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy. During an upper GI endoscopy, they may take a biopsy of the villi.
After verifying you have celiac disease, your provider recommends a gluten-free diet. Removing all sources of gluten stops the immune attack, allowing your small intestine to heal. If you have severe intestinal damage or your condition doesn’t improve with a gluten-free diet, you may need anti-inflammatory medications.
If you need help with gastrointestinal symptoms, call G.I. Medicine Associates, P.C.