Eating gluten when you’ve got celiac disease can cause acute digestive upsets and long-term complications, including nutrient deficiencies. If you experience problems after eating foods containing gluten, visit Long Island Gastroenterology Specialists in New York. At their offices in North Wantagh, South Wantagh, and Garden City, the fellowship-trained physicians perform cutting-edge diagnostic tests to see if you have celiac disease. Call your nearest Long Island Gastroenterology Specialists office today or book an appointment online.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects your gastrointestinal system. Autoimmune diseases occur when your immune system malfunctions and attacks healthy cells in your body as though they were bacteria or viruses that could make you sick.
If you have celiac disease, your immune system targets a protein called gluten. Gluten is present in most grains and flours and many pre-packaged foods. When you eat foods containing gluten, your immune system damages the tiny villi that line your small intestine.
Villi are tiny projections in the intestinal lining that help with digestion. When the faulty immune system response damages the villi, it reduces your body’s ability to extract nutrients from your food.
Untreated celiac disease can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Long-term effects include reduced bone density, infertility, and miscarriage. In some cases, celiac disease can affect your nervous system or increase your risk of getting certain cancers.
Symptoms of celiac disease include:
Some people with celiac disease don’t suffer any symptoms, or their symptoms are so mild they don’t realize there’s a problem. Consequently, it can be years before the intestinal damage becomes bad enough to cause obvious symptoms.
When you visit Long Island Gastroenterology Specialists, your provider draws some blood. The blood goes to the lab for a serology test, which identifies certain antibodies found in people with celiac disease.
Genetic tests that look for human leukocyte antigens can also help confirm or exclude celiac disease.
If the blood tests suggest you have celiac disease, your provider performs an endoscopy. This outpatient procedure allows them to view the inside of your intestine using a tiny camera on a flexible tube (the endoscope). They can take a tissue sample (biopsy) and identify any damage to the villi.
An alternative is PillCam™ video capsule endoscopy (VCE), where you swallow a pill-sized camera that passes through your digestive system.
If you have celiac disease, you must stick to a strict gluten-free diet. The condition is incurable, so avoiding the immune system trigger is the only way to manage your symptoms and reduce intestinal damage.
If you’re worried you might have celiac disease, visit Long Island Gastroenterology Specialists for an expert diagnosis. Call their office or book an appointment online today.