Celiac disease is a digestive disease that interferes with the absorption of food nutrients. Gluten -- found in foods containing wheat, barley and rye -- causes the immune system to damage the small intestines in people with celiac disease. The disease is genetic, or it can be triggered by surgery, pregnancy, viral infection or emotional stress.
Symptoms are varied and can develop during childhood or adulthood. Some people with celiac disease may not experience any symptoms. Others may be unaware that their symptoms result from celiac disease. Common celiac disease symptoms include:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Bone or joint pain
- Tingling or numbness in legs
- Presence of pale sores, called aphthous ulcers, that develop in the mouth
- Tooth discoloration
- Unexplained low red blood cell count (anemia)
- Pale or fatty stool
Following a gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease. Although a gluten-free diet is restrictive, there are effective substitutes for most gluten-containing foods. Gluten is also used in some medications. Check with your pharmacist to learn what medications you should avoid.
The experts at the UK Digestive Health Program can help you develop healthy eating guidelines for foods to avoid on a gluten-free diet. Call 859-257-1000 or toll free 1-800-333-8874 for an appointment or view a list of our physicians.