Give up gluten to ease celiac disease

People with chronic diarrhea, constipation or painful bloating may be suffering from celiac disease, a condition that affects millions of Americans.

Celiac disease is a digestive disorder affecting people sensitive to gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. When someone has celiac disease, the immune system responds to gluten by attacking the small intestine and wiping out tiny fingerlike protrusions called villi, which help absorb nutrients into the bloodstream.

More than 2 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with celiac disease. It is often difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to other digestive diseases and conditions such as Crohn’s, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis and intestinal infections, says Dr. Prabhakar Swaroop, a gastroenterologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“A gluten-free diet is the only treatment for people with celiac disease,” Dr. Swaroop says. “Sticking to the diet is a lifetime requirement, because eating any gluten will cause more damage.”

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/digestive to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services for digestive disorders, including celiac disease.

Sept. 13 is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day.

Media Contact: Jeff Carlton

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