Celiac Disease (Gluten Enteropathy) (cont.)

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Are there other diseases or conditions associated with celiac disease?

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Celiac disease is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the body develops antibodies against its own tissues. Researchers believe that other such diseases may be related, and may affect organs such as the thyroid (autoimmune thyroiditis), the liver (primary biliary cirrhosis), and colon (microscopic colitis). Other diseases may include type 1 diabetes and dermatitis herpatiformis, a skin rash that has similar antibodies as celiac disease, but that are found in the skin.

Growth failure, delayed puberty, miscarriage and infertility may be associated with celiac disease.

How is celiac disease diagnosed?

The diagnosis of celiac disease is often delayed and it may take several months or years for the patient and the health care professional to think of it as the cause of many non-specific symptoms. History and physical examination may give direction as to the diagnosis, but commonly it take many visits with the patient complaining of recurrent abdominal pain, non-specific joint aches, or demonstrating chronic anemia that does not respond to iron treatment, to raise the suspicion that celiac disease is a possibility.

When the diagnosis is suspected, there is a two-step screening process to make the diagnosis:

  1. Blood test for immunoglobulin A anti-tissue transglutaminase antibody (IgA TTG). Testing for antiendomysial antibody may also be considered.
  2. If the screening blood test is positive, then endoscopy and biopsy of the lining of the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) is recommended. Usually performed under sedation, a fiberoptic tube is passed through the mouth, through the esophagus and stomach into the duodenum and a small bit of tissue is taken to be examined under a microscope.

It is important that the patient eats a regular diet for many weeks before the testing procedures. If the patient has already started a gluten free diet, it may cause the tests to be falsely negative.

Once the diagnosis is made, screening for osteoporosis may be appropriate.

Since it is often familial, once one person in the family is diagnosed with celiac disease, it is reasonable to have other close family members screened.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/11/2013

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Celiac Disease - Symptoms Question: What symptoms have you experienced with celiac disease?
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Celiac Disease - Treatment Question: What treatments have been effective for celiac disease?
Celiac Disease - Gluten Free Diet Question: What dietary changes have you made to treat celiac disease, and has a gluten free diet been effective and easy?
Celiac Disease - Other Conditions Question: Other diseases or conditions often accompany celiac disease. Please describe your experience.

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