Almost 2 million people in the United States have celiac disease, but roughly 75% of them do not know that they have it, according to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic. A person who has an immediate family member with this hereditary, autoimmune disease has a 10% chance of developing the condition.
Celiac disease develops its symptoms following the consumption of gluten, which is the substance that creates the elasticity of the dough. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat and certain types of grain products.
In someone with celiac disease, gluten triggers an autoimmune response when consumed – creating damaging inflammation in the small intestine. This is not the same as gluten sensitivity, which does not damage the tissues. Gone undiagnosed and untreated, celiac disease will wreak havoc on the digestive system, creating more health issues and uncomfortable symptoms.
Let’s talk about what the symptoms of celiac disease are and how it is diagnosed by a gastroenterologist.
Symptoms of Celiac Disease
The primary signs and symptoms are related to nutritional and digestive issues, and they include:
- Recurring diarrhea
- Weight loss
How Does a Doctor Diagnose Celiac Disease?
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, then it’s important to speak with a health professional for a diagnosis. Your doctor may perform one or more of the following tests in order to diagnose or rule out celiac disease:
A serology test looks for certain protein antibodies in your blood serum. High levels of these antibody proteins are an indication that the body has had an immune reaction to gluten.
Genetic testing can be performed to rule out celiac disease by the presence of the HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 leukocyte antigens. Someone with these antigens in their blood does not have celiac.
An upper endoscopy is a minimally invasive test that requires being put under mild anesthesia. The doctor will place a tube with a tiny camera function at the end through the mouth and down the throat.
An endoscopy allows the doctor to view the small intestine and look for any damage. The physician will also take a small sample of tissue for a biopsy of the villi of the small intestine.
In this test, a tiny wireless camera is enclosed inside a capsule that is the size of a vitamin pill. The patent swallows the capsule, and the tiny device moves through the digestive tract while it records images of the intestine.
A radio transmitter delivers the images to a recorder that the patient wears. The doctor then reviews the downloaded pictures on a computer. The tiny camera capsule is later naturally eliminated via a bowel movement.
Gastroenterologists in Greater Cleveland
If you have uncomfortable digestive symptoms that might signal celiac disease, see a gastroenterologist as soon as possible for an evaluation and possible treatment. Once a diagnosis is made, the doctor will provide specific information about how to deal with your condition.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians here at North Shore Gastroenterology, contact our friendly staff today by calling us at (440) 808-1212 or fill out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to being your healthcare partner.