Abdominal pain, intestinal gas and diarrhea or constipation can be indicative of many different types of conditions and disorders, including the very common irritable bowel syndrome. These symptoms are also all signs of Celiac Disease, or gluten sensitive enteropathy, a condition where the body can not digest protein from wheat, rye and barley. Because Celiac Disease shares symptoms with so many different conditions, it is often misdiagnosed. Many people with Celiac Disease suffer for years before they receive the correct diagnosis.
In addition to the obvious intestinal complaints, sufferers can also suffer from canker sores, bone and joint pain, infertility and depression, further complicating diagnosis. To correctly diagnosis Celiac Disease, specific antibody blood tests are performed. These tests are the first step in diagnosing Celiac Disease and include IgA endomysial antobodies, IgA tissue transglutaminase, IgG tissue transglutaminase and total IgA antibodies. If the antibody tests are positive, a small bowel biopsy is necessary to confirm the diagnosis. If the biopsy is inconclusive, testing for the human leukocyte antigen can help confirm a diagnosis of Celiac Disease.
Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the first step in controlling Celiac Disease is to eliminate all wheat, barley and rye from the diet. Gluten is hidden in many every day foods, so Celiac Disease sufferers must learn to read all ingredient labels and find alternatives to products that are produced with wheat flour. Sufferers must also learn to avoid cross contamination by keeping gluten-free foods away from areas where wheat products have been prepared. There is no surgery or medication regimens for treating and controlling Celiac Disease. It can only be controlled by life-style change. Gluten-free products have long been available in heath and natural food stores and are now becoming more readily available in mass retailers like Wal-Mart and national grocery chains such as Kroger.
In addition to adopting a gluten-free lifestyle, it is also necessary for patients to have blood vitamin and mineral levels monitored. Because the small intestine is affected by Celiac Disease, nutrients are often not properly absorbed and supplements may be necessary.
Patients that have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease often find they have other sensitivities such as lactose intolerance, mold allergies and food allergies. CD has also been associated with osteoporosis and osteopenia due to improper absorption of calcium.
Studies are currently underway at the University of California at Irvine and Columbia University to identify genetic markers that are associated with Celiac Disease.