Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is caused by a sensitivity to gluten. This is a protein found in many grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. Celiac disease affects villi (tiny, fingerlike stalks) in the small bowel (intestine). Normally, the villi make it possible for the small bowel to absorb nutrients from the food you eat. But celiac disease damages the villi. As a result, you can't get the nutrients you need, even if you eat plenty of food. Celiac disease can't be cured. However, you can manage the disease by removing gluten from your diet. This relieves your symptoms. It also reverses the damage to your small bowel.

Causes of Celiac Disease

With celiac disease, villi that line the small bowel become damaged and cannot absorb nutrients properly.

Celiac disease is likely genetic. This means it can be passed down in families. If your doctor thinks that you have celiac disease, he or she may advise that other members of your family be checked for it as well.

Signs and Symptoms of Celiac Disease

The symptoms of celiac disease can vary for each person. Some people have no symptoms at all. If symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • Diarrhea, constipation, or both

  • Abdominal pain and cramping

  • Abdominal swelling or bloating

  • Weight loss

  • Bone or joint pain

  • Tiredness and loss of energy

  • Mood changes, irritability, and depression

  • Canker sores

  • Skin rash

  • Tooth enamel problems

Diagnosing Celiac Disease

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You'll also have a physical exam. Tests are then done to confirm the problem. These can include:

  • Blood tests. These help check for specific proteins in the blood that are present with celiac disease. They also check for anemia and help rule out other problems. The tests are done by taking a blood sample.

  • Upper endoscopy with biopsy. This is done to see inside the stomach and duodenum (first part of the small bowel). For the test, an endoscope is used. This is a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end. It's inserted through the mouth and down into the stomach and duodenum. Tools are passed through the endoscope to remove tiny tissue samples (biopsy). The tissue samples are taken to a lab and looked at under a microscope. This is to check the tiny villi for damage. This test must be done while you are still eating food with gluten. This is the only way to see if the presence of gluten is damaging the villi.

  • Genetic tests. These check for problems with specific genes linked to celiac disease. They are done by taking a blood or saliva samples.

Treating Celiac Disease

To treat celiac disease, you must remove all sources of gluten from your diet. This will allow the villi to heal, so that nutrients can be absorbed normally. It's important to follow a strict, gluten-free diet daily, even if you don't have symptoms. If you don't do this, the small bowel can become permanently damaged, which can lead to serious health problems. These include bone disease, cancer of the small bowel, and various nervous system disorders.

Sources of Gluten

Gluten is found in wheat, barley, and rye. The most common foods with gluten are those made with wheat flour. These include bread, pasta, cake, and cereal. Gluten is also often found in beer, gravies, salad dressings, and most packaged foods. It is even found in some non-food products such as certain medications and cosmetics. Your doctor can refer you to a dietitian to counsel you about what you should avoid. The resources below will also give you lists of food and products that contain gluten.

Follow-Up

You'll meet with your doctor at least once a year to check your health. During these visits, routine blood tests are often done to make sure your condition is under control. If needed, your doctor can refer you to other healthcare providers or support and advocacy groups to help you cope with your condition.

Learning More About Celiac Disease

The following resources can help you learn more about celiac disease and how to manage it.

  • Celiac Disease Foundation, www.celiac.org

  • Celiac Sprue Association, www.csaceliacs.org

  • Gluten Intolerance Group, www.gluten.net

  • National Institute ofDiabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, www2.niddk.nih.gov

For top-quality, up-to-date care for gastrointestinal problems, trust the board-certified, experienced GI specialists trusted by thousands of patients and their doctors for nearly 30 years. Call Gastroenterology Consultants at (281) 481-9400 or fill out our online Request an Appointment form to schedule your consultation with us.

Gastroenterology Consultants

Ellington

444 FM 1959, Suite A,
Houston, TX 77034
Direct Phone: 281-481-9400

St. John

2060 Space Park Drive, Suite 306
Nassau Bay, TX 77058
Direct Phone: 281-892-2460

Clear Lake

250 Blossom Street, Suite 210 Webster, TX 77598
Direct Phone: 281-316-1119

Pasadena

4211 Fairmont Parkway
Pasadena, TX 77504
Direct Phone: 832-456-8434

Pearland

15015 Kirby Dr. Ste.200A
Pearland, TX 77047
Direct Phone: 713-343-6360

League City

2555 S. Gulf Freeway Ste. 500
League City, TX 77573
Direct Phone: 281-481-9400

Gastroenterology Consultants is a leader in advanced, comprehensive gastrointestinal care. We specialize in up-to-date gastrointestinal care, which includes screening and treatment for colon cancer, heartburn and acid reflux, esophageal disorders and difficulty swallowing, peptic ulcers, H. pylori, gallstones and other gallbladder disorders, rectal bleeding and hemorrhoids, malabsorption and celiac disease, liver diseases - hepatitis C, hepatitis B, cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, hepatoma and liver cancer, abdominal pain, noncardiac chest pain, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer, anemia, nausea and vomiting, gas and bloating and lactose intolerance

Gastroenterology Consultants also offers colonoscopy screening for colorectal cancer, EGD & capsule endoscopy small-bowel, endoscopic ultrasound, Bravo 48-hour pH monitoring, H. pylori breath testing, esophageal manometry and impedance testing, hemorrhoid band ligation, esophageal dilatation, advanced therapeutic ERCP, Biologic therapy, treatment of Barrett's esophagus, common bile duct stones and endoscopic mucosal resection.