Celiac Disease - symptoms, gluten-free diet hacks

Celiac Disease - symptoms, gluten-free diet hacks

Celiac disease is a chronic inflam­matory disorder of the small intestine. It is caused by the ingestion of dietary gluten products in some people. It is especially problematic for gluten-intolerant patients, because an effective medication for celiac disease has not been discovered yet. However, scientists are constantly working on it, as well as developing knowledge on celiac disease and its consequences.

 

The only effective way to reduce celiac disease symptoms is to follow a strict gluten-free diet, completely excluding products with trace amounts of gluten. Below, we present gluten-free diet hacks to introduce into the daily diet for celiacs, as well as describe symptoms of celiac disease and reliable testing methods.

What Are The Signs of Celiac Disease?

 

Clinical symptoms of celiac disease are relatively varied, and may differ in each patient. Generally, the signs include digestive problems and other, non-digestion related difficulties. Digestion problems are generally more common in children than in adults. 

Most common symptoms of celiac disease include:

  • Bloating
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lactose intolerance - due to the damage of small intestine
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Frequent headaches
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Anemia, which is a result of iron deficiency

As celiac disease symptoms are not distinctive, the best way to diagnose this condition is to take a test detecting anti-deamidated gliadin antibodies in a patient’s blood.

A vast majority of people with celiac disease experience one or more symptoms before receiving a diagnosis. Symptoms typically reduce when following a strict gluten-free diet. However, the signs are likely to return if a patient consumes small amounts of gluten.

Studies have found that there are about 20% of patients in which diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fatigue persist even after starting a gluten-free diet. In these cases either the initial diagnosis of celiac disease was wrong or the patient does not follow the gluten-free diet guidelines. 

How Do I Know I've Got Celiac Disease?

Because none of the celiac disease symptoms is distinctive, the diagnostic process may be difficult and time-consuming. Apart from performing basic laboratory blood tests, the most effective way of diagnosing celiac disease is taking a test which detects anti-deamidated gliadin antibodies (IgA and IgG) in a patient’s blood. 

Rapid tests are a popular testing method for celiac disease and they may be an excellent starting point for further diagnosis. For example, BerkeleyHealth Celiac Rapid Test takes only 10 minutes and is over 90% accurate in detecting celiac disease. The test may be useful for anyone who wants to check for any gluten sensitivity, which must then be confirmed by a specialist.

What Are The 4 Stages Of Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is clinically divided into four stages which are characterized by different symptoms and level of intestine damage - it is the so-called Marsh Score. The stage of celiac disease may be determined through endoscopy.

The initial stage - stage 0 - indicates no damage of the small intestine, and clearly suggests that a person does not suffer from celiac disease. 

Stages 1 and 2 clearly suggest the development of celiac disease and, therefore, the proceeding damage of the small intestine. What is more, the presence of too many lymphocytes on the small intestine surface indicates inflammation and the potential for damage.

Stage 3 is the most popular stage of receiving a celiac disease diagnosis. In this stage of celiac disease, the endoscopy clearly shows the shrinking and flattening intestinal villi. Apart from that, the symptoms of stage 2 are present.

Stage 4 is the most serious stage of celiac disease and fortunately it is not seen often in clinical practice. In this stage, intestinal villi are entirely damaged, and celiac-related complications, such as lymphoma, are likely to occur.

What Are Gluten-Free Diet Hacks?

Keeping a gluten-free diet may not seem easy, but it is the most effective way to reduce symptoms of celiac disease. In order to follow the guidelines strictly, it is necessary to exclude products containing gluten - bread, wheat, pasta, baked goods, cereal, and others. 

What is more, it is important to avoid gluten-contaminated food - products that do not contain gluten themselves, but they might have contact with gluten, for example during the production process. It is vital to read labels carefully and pay attention to the list of allergens, for instance in restaurants or cafés.  

Fortunately, it is possible to replace traditionally gluten-based products with their gluten-free substitutes - corn pasta, gluten-free pizza or bread. Nevertheless, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet with exclusion of gluten is crucial for minimising the symptoms of celiac disease and, therefore, preventing further intestine damage.

Sources:

 

  1. Symptoms & Causes of Celiac Disease - NIDDK (nih.gov)
  2. What is Celiac Disease? | Celiac Disease Foundation
  3. Label Reading & the FDA | Celiac Disease Foundation
  4. The gluten free diet - All you need to know about the diet that will make you well again - Coeliac UK