Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD Patient Handout


About Your Diagnosis

Celiac disease is also known as nontropical sprue and gluten enteropathy. It is an allergic condition of the small intestine that causes malabsorption. An allergic reaction to gluten causes this condition. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, oats, and barley. This allergic condition causes the small intestine lining to lose its ability to absorb nutrients. It also causes the digestive enzymes normally made by the small intestine to be no longer produced. Celiac disease affects about 50–75 in 100,000 individuals. It is a congenital disorder. It occurs most commonly in two age groups: children younger than 1 year and adults older than 60 years. It usually appears in children once they start eating cereals. Examining the stool for excessive amounts of fat helps in diagnosing this condition. A biopsy of the small intestine done through an endoscope (a lighted flexible tube used to view the stomach and small intestine) will confirm the diagnosis. The condition is not curable but can be controlled with a gluten-free diet.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Celiac disease usually presents with foul-smelling diarrheal stools. Abdominal pain and bloating are common. Weight loss or slowed weight gain, especially in child en, is observed. Children can have a mild bowing of the legs associated with a complication of this disease known as rickets. Adults will have bone pain and tenderness. This is associated with diseases known as osteomalacia. Anemia can be present with the symptoms of paleness and fatigue.

The treatment for celiac disease is elimination of gluten from the diet. Because of the malabsorption, vitamin and mineral supplements are needed to correct any deficiencies.

The DOs
• Strictly adhere to the gluten-free diet.
• See a dietician to help with diet instruction.
• Substitute with rice, corn, or soybean flour.
• Take vitamin and mineral supplements as prescribed.

The DON’Ts
• Avoid foods containing gluten.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If you or your child have symptoms of celiac disease.
• If symptoms do not improve after 3 weeks of diet modification.
• If fever develops.
• If your child fails to gain weight after starting the diet.