I think I have Celiac Disease,  what is it, and what do I do?

Celiac Disease FAQS  

What is Celiac Disease ?

Celiac Disease is when gluten from grains causes malabsorption in the body. The inability to absorb nutrients, such as protein, fat, carbs, vitamins and minerals,  contributes to other various ailments of the body and immune system.  It is estimated in Canada, 1 in 250 persons may have some form of Celiac. Italy 1:184, Holland 1:131, Ireland 1:122, Denmark 1:200.

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Do I have Celiac Disease ?

Symptoms of Celiac Disease include: weight loss, cramps, bloating, abdominal pain, stunted growth, chronic diarrhea, fatigue, and anemia.  These reactions would be brought on by the ingestion of wheat, rye, barley, oats, triticale, or their counterparts.

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What is Dermatitis Herpetiformis  ?

Dermatitis Herpetiformis (D.H.) is a chronic benign, skin disorder characterized by an intense burning and itching rash.  Genetic factors, the immune system, and a sensitivity to gluten, play a role in this disorder.  More men than women have DH.  Diagnosis for DH is verified through a biopsy of the skin lesion and/or small bowel biopsy.  More info here

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How do I confirm Celiac Disease  ?

The first step to confirming diagnosis, is perhaps screening through a test called the IgG and/or IgA blood test.  There is also a new screening test available now called the Tissue Transglutaminase Test.  This test is available from:  www.inter-medico.com. 
The most definitive confirmation will come from an intestinal biopsy from a gastroenterologist. The GI will take a sample from the small bowel, and check for damage of the villiMore info here.  

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What do I do after diagnosis ?

Following the positive results from a small bowel biopsy, a Celiac diagnosed person should begin a gluten free diet for life.  

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What is the gluten free diet ?

In Canada, this would mean consuming foods that do not have the ingredients of wheat, rye, barley, oats, and triticale. Yes, this means No Beer, Pizza, donuts, or cookies.  This is fairly easy to do, once you are familiar with gluten free products and their ingredients.  You will also find ways to make these foods using ingredients of rice, potato, corn, and tapioca. Different countries have different variations of the diet.  Those in the USA do not eat vinegar, for example, and some countries have no problem with oats in the GF diet.

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What are hidden forms of gluten ?

Person's on a gluten free diet should always inquire about the source of HVP and HPP listed in the ingredients, they should also be conscious of flavourings and seasonings.  When dining out, you should always be aware of cross contamination.

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Where can I find more info ?

The first place to go to for support is the Canadian Celiac Association.  Tel: 1 800 363 7296.  They have Chapters in Provinces all across Canada.  You can also find Travel and dining info as well as Product information including 1-800's for manufacturers at Celiac-canada.  More info here.

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Revised: January 31, 2005