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Palliser Primary Care Network


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Celiac Disease

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Celiac disease (CD) is a problem some people have with foods that contain gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains such as rye & barley. When you have this disease and are exposed to gluten, it triggers an abnormal autoimmune response that damages the small intestine. The intestine then cannot do a good job of absorbing nutrients from your food which are vital for good health. (Reference 3)

Classic symptoms;

  • change in bowel movements such as diarrhea 

  • abdominal distention and gas

  • malabsorption

  • vomiting after exposure to gluten

  • loss of appetite

  • weight loss or failure to gain weight

  • feeling tired and weak

(References 1,2,3)


Although we are unsure of the cause, a diagnosis is made with a combination of blood antibody tests and intestinal biopsies (endoscopy). (Reference 1)

The only effective treatment is strict lifelong gluten free diet. This leads to recovery of intestinal mucosa, improves symptoms and reduces risk of developing complications.

CD can lead to anemia, osteoporosis and lymphoma. (Reference 1)

A gluten free diet can be challenging and complicated. Ask your health home for a consultation with a registered dietitian. Read food labels carefully.

Be aware of hidden gluten; it can be in things you may not expect. Such as alcohol, medicine, vitamins, and even lipstick. Prevent contamination; use separate toaster, clean utensils and wipe surfaces often. Inform restaurants of your allergy to gluten.

If you aren't sure if you have Celiac Disease or perhaps a gluten intolerance, consider booking a visit with your doctor, PCN nurse or dietitian.



Article Submitted by Danielle Longtin, Registered Nurse at 13th Ave Clinic


References:

1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/celiac-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20352220 

2. https://www.celiac.ca/gluten-related-disorders/celiac-disease/ 

3. https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/hw192303