Celiac disease (gluten-sensitive enteropathy), sometimes called sprue, is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine. Over time, this reaction damages your small intestine's lining and prevents absorption of some nutrients (malabsorption). The intestinal damage often causes diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating and anemia, and can lead to serious complications.
There's no cure for celiac disease — but for most people, following a strict gluten-free diet can help manage symptoms and promote intestinal healing.
The signs and symptoms of celiac disease can vary greatly. The most common signs are diarrhea, fatigue and weight loss. Adults may also experience bloating and gas, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, and vomiting.
However, more than half of adults with celiac disease have signs and symptoms that are not related to the digestive system, including:
- Anemia, usually resulting from iron deficiency
- Loss of bone density (osteoporosis) or softening of bone (osteomalacia)
- Itchy, blistery skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)
- Damage to dental enamel
- Mouth ulcers
- Headaches and fatigue
- Nervous system injury, including numbness and tingling in the feet and hands, possible problems with balance, and cognitive impairment
- Joint pain
- Reduced functioning of the spleen (hyposplenism)
- Acid reflux and heartburn
We can diagnose celiac disease though performing an endoscopy. In this procedure, your doctor uses a slender, flexible, lighted tube to examine the esophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine (duodenum). A small piece of tissue can be taken from the small intestines to make the diagnosis.
If you have celiac disease or are concerned you may have celiac disease, call your doctor. You can also call us at 978-459-6737 or click here to make an appointment.