Raising Celiac Disease Awareness: Learn the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment


The majority of people today have heard of gluten. In modern times, it is not uncommon to know some individuals that live a gluten-free way of life even if you’re not living one yourself. Being intolerant of gluten, however, can indicate a more serious concern – a medical disorder called celiac disease. At GastroArkansas, it’s our goal to help you learn about the symptoms of celiac disease and how to live with this health concern. There's no better time to explore celiac disease signs, symptoms, causes, and treatments than the month of May, designated as Celiac Disease Awareness Month. Read on to learn additional information about celiac disease from our gastroenterologists in Little Rock, AR.

What is celiac disease?

An autoimmune disease, celiac disease causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is ingested. In the presence of this hereditary disease, the body will carry out an immune system response following the ingestion of gluten that can injure the villi, which are the tiny fingerlike fringe lining of the small bowel. This damage prevents the body from receiving nutrients in the proper manner.

At GastroArkansas, we seek to provide people with as much information about this disease as possible since approximately 1 out of 100 people suffers from celiac disease. People with celiac disease are four times more likely to get cancer of the small intestine and are at an increased risk for developing coronary artery disease.

Signs and symptoms of celiac disease

It’s estimated that about 2.5 million Americans are undiagnosed with celiac disease. It’s crucial to know the signs and symptoms of this condition because, if ignored, it can result in serious and long-lasting medical complications.

Some common signs and symptoms of celiac disease include:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Loose bowel movements
  • Fainting or weakness
  • Excess gas
  • Joint or bone pain
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis rash, commonly on the knees, elbows, or buttocks (known as the “celiac rash”)
  • Dental caries
  • Numbness, tingling, or pain in the feet

How is celiac disease detected?

The gastrointestinal physicians at GastroArkansas perform diagnostic testing and help individuals with celiac disease in Little Rock, AR better manage this concern. To diagnose an individual with celiac disease, we’ll first start by getting a detailed family and health history. Given that patients having a first-degree relative with celiac disease possess a 10% chance of developing the disorder, it’s crucial to look at family history first. After that, our team will evaluate symptoms and perform a physical exam. We might assess the following as part of this exam:

  • Pain or swelling in the abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Skin rashes
  • Certain sounds originating in the abdominal area

We may also recommend a variety of celiac disease tests, which could include blood work, biopsies of a skin rash or the small bowel, DNA testing, and more. Test results may offer us a more extensive understanding of any symptoms and any possible autoimmune complications associated with celiac disease.

Is celiac disease easy to treat?

While celiac disease can be serious in the absence of treatment, you may find hope in knowing it can be rather easy to address. Our doctors will typically suggest managing celiac disease with a gluten-free diet, which includes avoiding certain grains, like wheat, barley, and rye. People can find a substantial collection of information about gluten-free diets online these days. However, our GI specialists suggest consulting a nutritional expert who can help guide this transition, as gluten is often in a variety of substances of which you might not realize. Some common products that could include gluten are:

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

Get care for celiac disease in Little Rock, AR

Celiac disease really is far more than an intolerance to gluten. It's a disorder that affects the small intestine and can render ongoing damage without treatment. If you or a member of your family faces any signs or symptoms of celiac disease or has a sibling or parent with the disease, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at GastroArkansas to test for celiac disease and start care as early as possible. To find out more about digestive health problems or to seek help for celiac disease in Little Rock, AR, contact our GI physicians today.