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Find out if gluten is unhealthy for everyone.

While gluten-free diets are popular, they aren’t the same as elimination diets that must be used by individuals with celiac disease. Gluten is not inherently bad, but for people with celiac disease, it can cause a variety of serious symptoms and complications. Learn more about celiac disease and the foods that contain gluten.

What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease isn’t an allergy or sensitivity to wheat. It’s an autoimmune disorder. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, celiac disease damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food.

What are the symptoms of celiac disease?
The symptoms of celiac disease can vary drastically. Celiac disease is considered highly under-diagnosed because symptoms are so difficult to pinpoint and can be attributed to other issues. The Celiac Disease Foundation reports that common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Intestinal gas
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Fatty stools
  • Anemia
  • Unexplained weight loss 
  • Problems with dental enamel
  • Fatigue
  • Miscarriage

How is celiac disease diagnosed?
To properly diagnose celiac disease, doctors begin with basic screenings. This can include blood tests and looking for symptoms like vitamin deficiency. If there are markers for celiac disease, the final diagnosis involves an intestinal biopsy using an endoscope. The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center does not recommend going on a gluten-free diet without a diagnosis.

What is a gluten-free diet?
The only way to treat celiac disease is with a true gluten-free diet. There is no cure and no other way to treat the symptoms of celiac disease. A true gluten-free diet can be very trying for individuals and families due to the scope of ingredients that contain gluten and the wide range of products and foods that contain gluten. It is recommended that those with celiac disease work with a nutritionist or registered dietician.

Find a health care professional who can help you diagnose celiac disease or fine tune a gluten-free diet. Call North Hills Hospital at 1-855-5NHILLS for a physician referral.

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