Chronic or unexplained constipation and diarrhea are often categorized as irritable bowel syndrome, otherwise known as IBS. But these can also be signs of celiac disease. While celiac sprue disease was once thought to be uncommon in the United States, as we learn more we discover it may not be as uncommon as once thought. In fact some people who have been told they have IBS may actually have a gluten sensitivity or even celiac disease.
Correct Diagnosis Is Important
The sad part about a possible misdiagnosis is that celiac sprue disease is an autoimmune disorder that can cause damage to the intestines, which can affect the absorption of nutrients from food. Living for several years not absorbing all of the nutrients from your food can cause other health problems over time. This disease is triggered by eating gluten, a composite protein in grains like wheat, rye and barley. It is something most people are exposed to on a regular basis.
Symptoms Of Celiac Disease
There are a number of symptoms people may experience when they have celiac sprue disease or gluten intolerance. Because some celiac disease symptoms are fairly common and possibly a sign of another problem — like loose stools, constipation, abdominal pain or bloating — they are easy to misdiagnose.
Other symptoms of gluten intolerance or celiac disease are not gastrointestinal so they can be difficult to connect and correctly diagnose. Non-gastrointestinal symptoms can include skin lesions, joint pain, depression, anemia, fertility problems or osteoporosis. To make it even more difficult, some people don’t have obvious symptoms but they may still be suffering from a lack of nutrition absorption caused by the damage done to the small intestine by the autoimmune response to gluten.
There are a few uncontrollable risk factors to be aware of if you suspect you may be gluten intolerant. Celiac sprue disease can be genetic, so if someone else in your family has it consider getting tested. Women and Caucasians are more prone to this disorder. If you have another autoimmune disorder there is a greater chance you may be suffering from gluten intolerance.
What To Do
It is important to consult your doctor if you think you may have a problem digesting wheat products or any products with gluten, but in the meantime one thing you can do on your own is to completely eliminate gluten from your diet for a couple of weeks to see if the symptoms go away.
Keep a food journal and record any changes as you start to add gluten back into your diet. Take detailed notes on any changes you notice and report your findings to your doctor. You may ultimately discover you do have irritable bowel syndrome and not sensitivity to gluten, so don’t jump to conclusions.
If you find out you have celiac disease you will need to completely eliminate gluten from your diet. Luckily as the demand has increased there are now more and more gluten-free food options available.