Anna Trauernicht, M.D.Pediatric GI
Celiac disease affects the small bowel and it makes it so the body doesn’t absorb nutrients quite as well.
It can affect individuals from infancy to all the way through adulthood and it occurs in approximately one in 133 Americans. So, about one percent of the population has celiac disease.
The signs and symptoms can vary, quite significantly, from one person to the next. In some people you can have diarrhea and in others you can have constipation. You can have weight loss or weight gain. Often times you will have abdominal pain or belly pain and it’s very hard to tell based on just symptoms alone.
How is celiac disease diagnosed?
The first way that we test for celiac disease is getting a blood sample. This can screen but the ultimate way we diagnose celiac disease is by doing an upper endoscopy, where we take samples of skin from inside the G.I. tract, to look for celiac disease.
For babies, they obviously can’t tell us that they’re having belly pain but we look for kids that have lots of spitting up or reflux. If they’re having problems with growth or having difficulties with gaining weight, any of these things can give us a clue that we might need to screen for celiac disease.
How is celiac disease treated?
You have to avoid all items that contain gluten and gluten, unfortunately, is in many, many foods. That’s why we have you work with our dietician so you can go through and find all of the hidden sources of gluten.
There aren’t any medicines you need to use. If you make the change in your diet, you’ll be able to treat the celiac disease.