Raising Celiac Disease Awareness: Explore the Causes, Signs, and Treatments


The majority of individuals have heard of the protein known as gluten. In this day and age, it is quite common to know a few individuals who follow a gluten-free life even if you do not adhere to one in your own life. However, gluten intolerance can be an indication of a more concerning issue – a medical disorder called celiac disease. At Arizona Digestive Health, our goal is to help people learn the signs and symptoms of celiac disease and develop ways to manage this health problem. There is no better month to investigate the signs, symptoms, treatments, and causes of celiac disease than the month of May – Celiac Disease Awareness Month. Keep reading to discover more about celiac disease from our Phoenix, AZ gastrointestinal experts.

What should I know about celiac disease?

An autoimmune disorder, celiac disease causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is consumed. With this hereditary disease, the body is prompted to carry out an immune system response following the consumption of gluten that can injure the villi, or the small fingerlike fringe lining of the small bowel. This keeps the body from receiving nutrients in the proper manner.

At Arizona Digestive Health, we seek to arm patients with helpful details about celiac disease since about 1 in 100 individuals live with this condition. Those with celiac disease are four times more likely to get small bowel cancer and are at a heightened risk of developing atherosclerotic heart disease (coronary artery disease).

Know the symptoms and signs of celiac disease

It is believed that around 2.5 million Americans have undiagnosed cases of celiac disease. It is vital to be aware of the symptoms and signs of this disease as, without proper care, celiac disease could lead to serious chronic medical issues.

Some common symptoms of celiac disease involve:

  • Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Excess gas
  • Oral ulcers
  • Dental caries
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis rash, commonly on the knees, elbows, or buttocks, referred to as “celiac rash”
  • Bloating
  • Loose bowel movements
  • Tingling, numbness, or pain in the feet
  • Fainting or weakness

What can I expect from a celiac disease diagnosis?

The GI doctors at Arizona Digestive Health work diligently to perform diagnostic tests and help people with celiac disease in Phoenix, AZ better manage this condition. To diagnose celiac disease, our doctors will start by gathering a detailed family and health history. Since individuals who have a first-degree relative with celiac disease possess a 1 in 10 chance of being affected by the disease, it is vital to review family history at the beginning. After that, our team will evaluate symptoms and provide a physical exam. Our experts may analyze the following factors when carrying out this exam:

  • Pain or swelling in the abdomen
  • Skin rashes
  • Certain sounds emanating from the abdomen
  • Loss of weight

Our GI team may also recommend various celiac disease tests, which could include blood tests, DNA testing, biopsies of a skin rash or the small bowel, and others. These results may allow for a more extensive understanding of symptoms and potential autoimmune conditions linked with celiac disease.

Can celiac disease be treated?

While celiac disease can cause serious complications in the absence of treatment, the good news is that it can be rather simple to manage. Our doctors will often suggest managing celiac disease with a gluten-free diet, which involves avoiding specific grains, like rye, barley, and wheat. You can find a tremendous collection of information about gluten-free diets on the internet these days. However, our GI physicians suggest getting help from a dietitian who can help guide this transition, as gluten is commonly found in many substances that you might not realize. Some household items that may include gluten are:

  • Lipstick or lip gloss
  • Play-Doh
  • Certain over-the-counter medications
  • Toothpaste

Get help for celiac disease in Phoenix, AZ

Celiac disease entails more than having an intolerance to gluten. It is a disease that affects the small intestine and can result in chronic damage in the absence of treatment. If you or a loved one faces any symptoms or signs of celiac disease or has a parent or sibling with the disorder, we urge you to schedule an appointment at Arizona Digestive Health to test for celiac disease so you can receive care as soon as possible. To learn more about GI issues or to find help for celiac disease in Phoenix, AZ, please contact our GI specialists today.