Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an inherited, auto-immune disease affecting the lining of your small intestine. If you have celiac disease, it means that your body cannot process gluten, which is found in any food containing wheat, barley or rye. While symptoms vary from person to person, many patients will complain of gastrointestinal problems. Anemia is also a very common presenting symptom of celiac disease A life-long gluten free diet is the standard of care for treating celiac disease.

Recently Answered

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    AMichael Albertson, MD, Gastroenterology, answered on behalf of UCLA Health
    Experts believe about 1 in 200 children may have celiac disease. If you have a child who is not growing well or has all kinds of stomach troubles or bowel problems, the pediatrician should probably check him or her for celiac disease.
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    AMichael Albertson, MD, Gastroenterology, answered on behalf of UCLA Health
    If you have celiac disease, it is okay to drink red wine and white wine. However, beer may be a problem. You can get wheat-free beer, but you should avoid all kinds of wheat beer and wheat ales. If you want to drink vodka, make sure it's potato vodka.
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    AMichael Albertson, MD, Gastroenterology, answered on behalf of UCLA Health
    If you have the genes that predispose you to celiac disease but have no symptoms -- such as no headaches, no neuropathy, no autoimmune disease, no diarrhea, no malabsorption, no vitamin deficiency and no anemia -- it's not advisable to go on a strict gluten-free diet. That's because it is a very restrictive diet. On the other hand, if you have symptoms and you have a predisposition to celiac disease, you should keep a food log. Start with a simple plant-based diet and then gradually add things back to your diet to make sure that you can tolerate them.
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    AMichael Albertson, MD, Gastroenterology, answered on behalf of UCLA Health
    The HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 genes make it more likely for people to have celiac disease under the right conditions. If you don't have those genes, the chances are that you're not going to be susceptible to celiac disease. If you do have those genes, even if you don't have full celiac disease, you may have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
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    AMichael Albertson, MD, Gastroenterology, answered on behalf of UCLA Health
    Untreated celiac disease predisposes people to complications such as certain cancers, mostly lymphomas, in the small bowel and other places as well. People with untreated celiac disease also become nutritionally deficient. Their bodies lack certain vitamins that can result in bone, muscle and nerve disease. Women with undiagnosed celiac disease who become pregnant are at risk for delivering underweight babies.
     
    Celiac is also associated with certain autoimmune diseases like thyroid disease, adrenal disease and diabetes mellitus. Anybody who has one of these conditions should be checked for the possibility of underlying celiac disease that has not been diagnosed.
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    AMichael Albertson, MD, Gastroenterology, answered on behalf of UCLA Health
    The genes for celiac disease are mostly found in people of northern European descent. It's rare in people of Chinese, Japanese and sub-Saharan heritage. When people in northern Europe were screened, more people than expected were positive for the DQ2 and DQ8 genes, which are linked to celiac disease. In fact, one person in 150 tested positive for these genes. The researchers found that the prevalence went from 1 in 70 to 1 in 300 in Eastern European countries and in the United States and Italy. They tested 17,000 children in these areas and found that 1 out of 184 children between the ages of 6 and 15 were positive for these genes.
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    AMichael Albertson, MD, Gastroenterology, answered on behalf of UCLA Health
    Children with untreated celiac disease do not grow well and have short stature. They also can have various intestinal problems that may be misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome, chronic constipation or chronic diarrhea. Pediatricians are becoming more aware of celiac disease, and they're starting to treat it appropriately.
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    AMichael Albertson, MD, Gastroenterology, answered on behalf of UCLA Health
    There are a number of non-intestinal symptoms of celiac disease which, in some cases, can be the first sign that you have celiac disease.
    • Celiac disease can present itself as migraine headaches.
    • You may have neuropathy, which is a nerve problem with numbness and tingling of your feet. This usually occurs with diabetes but could be related to celiac disease.
    • Depression or dysthymia (a feeling of melancholy), anxiety for no reason and epileptic seizures are sometimes associated with celiac disease.
    • Down syndrome is associated with celiac disease.
    • A rash called dermatitis herpetiformis is associated with celiac disease. If you have that rash, it's a pretty certain diagnosis of celiac disease.
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    ANancee Jaffe, RD, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of UCLA Health
    People who have celiac disease can tolerate only tiny amounts of gluten, somewhere between 10 and 50 milligrams (mg) of gluten per day. To give you an idea of what that means, a regular slice of wheat bread has somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 mg of gluten. Not only do people who have celiac disease need to be on a gluten-free diet, but they must be very careful and strict on that diet.
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    ANancee Jaffe, RD, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of UCLA Health
    Celiac disease is hereditary, which means it happens in people who have the genes for it. If you want to find out if you do or don't have celiac disease, you can have a genetic test done. About 38% of the U.S. population has the genes for celiac disease, but only 1% will actually ever get celiac disease. The genetics test is more of a rule-out test than a rule-in test. If you don't have the genes for celiac disease, the likelihood of ever getting celiac disease is incredibly small.