Celiac Disease

  • Overview

    Celiac disease is a life-long medical condition in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by a substance called gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Celiac disease is also known as gluten-sensitive enteropathy (GSE) or celiac sprue. When people with celiac disease, eat foods or use products containing gluten, their immune systems react against the gluten and cause damage to villi thereby reducing the surface area in the small intestine available for absorbing nutrients.

    More than 110,000 Canadians are believed to be affected by celiac disease and another 220,000 suspected to have this disease. Rates of celiac disease have nearly doubled in the last 25 years in western countries.

  • Guides

    Understanding Celiac Disease

    Celiac disease is a life-long medical condition in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by a substance called gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Celiac disease is also known as gluten-sensitive enteropathy (GSE) or celiac sprue. 

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  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Can celieac disease lead to more serious illnesses?

    30% of celiac disease patients may develop a malignancy, therefore adhering to a gluten-free diet is critical for preventive purposes.

    Can children get celiac disease?

    In children, stunted growth and an inability to gain weight are important clues to diagnosis. More unusual features of celiac disease appear to be related to an altered immune system. These include a skin condition called dermatitis herpetiformis, insulin-dependent diabetes, thyroid disease and underactivity of the adrenal glands.

    I am anemic and have heard that I may have celiac disease. Could this be true?

    Today, many patients have minor symptoms or none at all and the disease is only discovered after routine testing reveals anemia (low red blood cell count) or osteoporosis. In hindsight, many patients will realize that they have had minor symptoms that they ignored.

    Is celiac disease genetic?

    The risk for developing celiac disease is increased 20 times for those who have a first degree relative with the disease.

    What causes celiac disease?

    It is not known why certain people have this allergy to gluten but studies suggest that there are both genetic and environmental components. Traditionally, this disease was found to be more common in patients with northern European backgrounds, such as Ireland and Scotland. However, more recent reports suggest that celiac disease occurs in other racial and ethnic groups.

    My son has Type I diabetes. I have heard that this may put him at increased risk for developing celiac disease. What I can do to reduce his risk of developing celiac disease? What risk(s ) should be aware of as a diabetic living with celiac disease?

    Yes there it is recognized that there is an increased risk of celiac disease associated with those living with Type I diabetes. There is likely a genetic basis and hence it is improbable that there is anything you can do to decrease the risk. A serology blood test (tissue transglutaminase antibody) is very useful to screen for celiac disease and if the test is positive a endoscopic duodenal biopsies should be arranged to confirm the diagnosis and assess any damaged to the villi that may have already occurred. Once diagnosed with celiac disease, following a strict gluten free diet for life is recommended to prevent the risk of malabsorption and the development of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) complicating the management of your son’s diabetes.

  • Related News

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    Marc Legel would rather be tinkering with computer networks or going on a Sunday drive than worrying about his digestive health. But when Legel, 23, began to experience gas, bloating, rumbling, general discomfort in his stomach — and worst of all, extreme fatigue — he had to put his high-tech passion aside and find out what was wrong.

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  • Videos

    Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity and Diet

    There is a lot of talk these days about gluten. Dr. Khush Jeejeebhoy is an expert and shares his insights on how to distinguish between disease and sensitivity and how this can affect your diet and health.

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    Gi BodyGuard App Preview

    Gi BodyGuard, developed by experts at the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, is a free, easy to use app that allows you to track information about your health, symptoms, medications, food and exercise. 

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    Celiac Disease with Dr. Sanjay Murthy

    At the 2012 CDHF Digestive Health Public Education Forum, Dr. Sanjay Murthy gave an interesting and educational presentation on Celiac Disease to a capacity crowd.

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