Finding out you have celiac disease can bring relief. Finally, you know why you've had so many gut issues that never went away. But celiac disease treatment means changing what you eat. And you may need to recover from the effects of gluten: Anemia, a lack of vitamin D, or osteoporosis.
At UVA Health, we give you in-depth, specialized guidance you can't find everywhere. We take the time to walk you through everything you need to know. You leave our clinic feeling confident to:
- Read food labels
- Find gluten substitutes
- Make sure you get the vitamins and minerals you need
Celiac Disease Treatment: Education That Empowers
Whether you have celiac or a gluten intolerance, there's only one treatment: not eating gluten. You can find over-the-counter digestive aids that say they'll help if you accidentally ingest gluten. But nothing truly counters the effects it can have on your system.
That's why learning plays a key role in treating this disease. Not many providers in Virginia offer the in-depth education we do. Few places have a celiac disease specialist or dietitian giving you support. And very few hospitals offer the focused care of a celiac disease specialist with deep experience treating the most complex cases.
You also have a team on your side. Our highly trained celiac disease dietitian and GI specialist meet with you together to discuss and manage your case.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in the grains of wheat, barley, or rye. Not just bread or cake, gluten appears in all kinds of processed foods, seasonings, salad dressings, baked goods, soups, alcoholic beverages.
Is Gluten Bad for You?
Some people have started to avoid gluten, attempting to have a healthier diet. If you don't have a gluten intolerance, however, not eating gluten offers no health benefits at all.
What Does Gluten Do to Someone With Celiac Disease?
Like other autoimmune issues, celiac disease causes your immune system to attack itself. In this case, gluten triggers that attack. Your immune system responds to danger and damage with inflammation. People with the disease or even a gluten intolerance will have stomach problems and joint pain caused by inflamed tissue.
Not all patients with celiac disease have intestinal issues. Instead, we discover the disease via blood tests that look for low iron levels or vitamin D deficiency. But gluten can damage all patients with celiac disease, even if you don’t have gastrointestinal symptoms.
Is Gluten Intolerance or Gluten Insensitivity Real?
Yes. Some people don't have celiac disease. However, they still experience mild to even severe symptoms after eating gluten-containing food. Many factors play a role, some environmental, others genetic, or from immune issues in a person's body.
What causes celiac disease and gluten intolerance? Science doesn't know yet. We do know that if you have one autoimmune disease, you're more likely to have others. And they do run in families.
Celiac Disease: Do You Have It?
Celiac disease can seem like other GI problems. Classic symptoms of celiac disease include:
- Weight loss
The disease also results in:
- Iron-deficiency anemia
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Osteoporosis (weakening of the bones)
In turn, these symptoms can lead to depression, or hair thinning or loss.
But other conditions can cause these symptoms. One way to find an answer: Stop eating gluten. If you start to feel better after a week or two, you might want to get an official diagnosis — before you stop eating it altogether.
We can confirm you have celiac disease in 2 steps:
- A blood test
- Upper endoscopy to get samples from your small intestine
These need to both be done while you are still eating gluten.
Once we know for sure, we can help make eating a more nutritious and pleasant experience for you.