Zero Tolerance - Page 2
How will I know?
The cause of celiac disease is unknown, although, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation, it may be linked to a group of genes on Chromosome 6. Some experts believe that stressful events such as surgery, severe emotional stress or childbirth may trigger symptoms for the first time.
Common symptoms include abdominal cramping, intestinal gas, distention and bloating, chronic diarrhea or constipation (or both), fatty stools, anemia and weight loss. Other not-so-obvious signs can include dermatitis herpetiformis (blister-like skin rash), depression, infertility (male and female), bone or joint pain, fatigue and osteoporosis.
"CD is a multi-system, multi-symptom disorder. Symptoms are extremely varied and can often mimic other bowel disorders," says the Celiac Disease Foundation. Common misdiagnoses range from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and chronic fatigue syndrome, to fibromyalgia and lymphoma. That's why it's crucial to get a professional diagnosis.
Diagnosing the disease often begins with a line of antibody blood tests. If these come back positive, the next step is likely an intestinal biopsy, the gold standard for diagnosis.
It's important to note the difference between having celiac disease and being gluten intolerant. While both conditions may illicit similar symptoms when gluten is eaten, they typically subside in those with a gluten intolerance and don't cause permanent intestinal damage.
For celiacs, the only effective, proven treatment for healing the gut and promoting regrowth of intestinal villi is to completely remove gluten from the diet. The time it takes to fully recover varies, depending on how long the intestinal damage has been occurring. Those with a gluten intolerance should also follow the same course of action. It's crucial to rid the diet entirely of foods or food ingredients made from grains, including wheat (all types), bran, rye, barley, bulgur, kamut, spelt, wheat germ and semolina.
Oats have been a hot topic among gluten-free forums and health reports as to whether they're safe for celiacs. There's a concern that oats may be contaminated by other gluten-containing grains during the growing and packaging processes. "Some consider oats safe for all but the most sensitive celiacs," states Jax Peters Lowell, author of the Gluten-Free Bible. "Others feel that because of the difficulty of measuring the varying degrees in sensitivity between celiacs, it's hard to know how many oats a celiac can consume without damaging the villi." Further complicating matters is the fact that gluten can be "hidden" in many unlikely foods such as jelly beans, deli meats, soups, salad dressings and soy sauce. It can even be buried in the ingredients of some toiletries and pharmaceuticals. Celiacs must learn how to read labels and identify the hidden culprits.