Celiac disease is a difficult condition for doctors to pinpoint because it manifests itself in a wide variety of symptoms. One person might have loose stool, nausea, and fever, while another patient may be suffering from stomach pains, indigestion, and vomiting. Additionally, these symptoms can be caused by a number of different conditions, making it hard for doctors to recognize Celiac disease right off the bat.
The one basic symptom of Celiac disease is anemia, usually due to poor assimilation of iron by the weakened intestine. Anemic patients have fewer red blood cells than healthy people, which in turn decreases the amount of oxygen accessible to the body. Low levels of oxygen can make you feel nauseated and weaken your immune system, which will make you susceptible to other illnesses, in addition to fatigue, irritability, and mood swings. That being said, not all patients with anemia have Celiac disease, as it also occurs in people suffering from a variety of other conditions, including certain types of cancer.
Another gluten related disease is called Dermatitis herpetiformis, which—as the name suggests—involves a rash over the face and arms. This condition is similar to Celiac disease in that both can lead to damage in the intestines, although Dermatitis herpetiformis does not produce the same digestive symptoms.
If you have experienced any of these symptoms, it’s important to visit your doctor to determine the cause. You might even help them out by suggesting that you think you have Celiac disease.
Coming home from the doctor’s office with a Celiac diagnosis might seem like bad news, but you’ll be happy to hear that this condition is perfectly manageable under a strict gluten-free diet. And with so many naturally gluten free foods, you can still enjoy a variety of different meals, even dessert!
In fact, Celiac patients have more food options today than every before. As gluten-related diseases become more widely known and understood, more and more bakers and manufacturers have begun producing gluten free meals and snacks, many of which you can order right from your computer. You can enjoy a variety of flavors and styles, from chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon cookies to the animal-shaped crackers you may remember from your childhood. There are even sandwich cookies stuffed with cream!
These gluten free snack products, such as wheat free cookies and gluten free crackers, are useful for people with other diet restrictions as well, as many of them do not contain any animal products, making gluten free cookies perfect for vegans or the lactose intolerant. Plus, many gluten-free foods are also 100% kosher—how great is that?
As manufacturers perfect their gluten free techniques, these foods become more appealing even to people with no dietary restrictions. This can be great for the friends and family members of a patient with Celiac disease.
Living with Celiac disease does require a change in lifestyle, but if you maintain a proper diet, you won’t experience any of your previous symptoms. Thus, even though Celiac disease is not yet curable it is manageable—a fact that applies to many other immune and digestive diseases.