# Monday, July 20, 2009
                 
Some Canadians may have Celiac disease and not even know it. CD affects nearly 1% of the Canadian population. Celiac disease is an immune mediated disease which is triggered by the ingestion of gluten. Gluten is storage proteins that are found in wheat, barley, rye, and other cereal grains. These proteins can trigger an inflammatory injury in the absorptive surface of the small intestine which results in malabsorption of protein, fats, carbohydrates and minerals, especially iron and calcium.

The most common symptoms of CD include:

  •     anemia;
  •     bloating and/or cramps;
  •     diarrhea;
  •     weight loss;
  •     fatigue;
  •     irritability;
  •     intense burning and itching rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)
  •     flatulence;
  •     abdominal pain
Type 1 diabetes, thyroiditis, arthritis, ataxia, depression and/or neuropathy can also be associated with CD.

Although there is no cure for CD, if treated early the damaged tissues can heal and reduce the changes of long term complications such as osteoporosis, lymphoma and infertility. Currently the only known way to combat CD is a very strict diet that excludes all gluten products. This can be difficult as processed and/or packaged foods may contain hidden sources of gluten, i.e. soups, lunch meats, sausages.

Until very recently CD was diagnosed on clinical signs which would determine which patients should be selected for further testing, rather than any definitive testing. Currently a simple blood test is available to help determine whether CD is likely. A definitive diagnosis for celiac disease can only be determined through a small bowel biopsy. This biopsy must be done before any form of treatment is implemented.

Due to the fact that the symptoms of CD can be vague and/or ambiguous, it is important to recognize the symptoms, and to be aware if these are an on-going health concern. Be aware of what food products you buy, and carefully read the labels of any processed or packaged foods you purchase.

If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, it is important to obtain the services of a licensed nutritionist. The nutritionist will be able to help you implement a gluten free diet, and advise of which foods and food products to avoid. Check your health insurance coverage (e.g. individual health insurance or employee benefits to see if a nutritionist is covered. For more information regarding celiac disease, please visit the Canadian Celiac Association.
    
RSS 2.0