Celiac Disease Awareness Month: Explore the Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment


Most individuals have heard of the protein known as gluten. In modern times, it is not uncommon to know a few people who live a gluten-free diet even if you do not follow one in your own life. Having a gluten intolerance, however, could indicate something more serious – a health disorder referred to as celiac disease. At Colorado Gastroenterology, we aim to help people learn the symptoms and signs of celiac disease and understand ways to control this medical concern. There is no better time to discover more about celiac disease symptoms, signs, treatments, and causes than the month of May, designated as Celiac Disease Awareness Month. Read on to discover further details about celiac disease from our Denver, CO gastrointestinal specialists.

What should I know about celiac disease?

An autoimmune disorder, celiac disease results in damage to the small intestine when gluten is consumed. With this hereditary disease, the body will carry out an immune system reaction after gluten is eaten that can injure the villi, which are the little fingerlike fringe lining of the small bowel. This blocks the body from receiving nutrients correctly.

At Colorado Gastroenterology, we seek to provide families with as much information about this disease as possible since approximately 1 out of 100 individuals have celiac disease. Those with the condition are at greater risk of developing atherosclerotic heart disease (coronary artery disease) and are four times more likely to get small bowel cancer.

What are the signs of celiac disease?

It is estimated that about 2.5 million individuals in the United States have undiagnosed cases of celiac disease. If left untreated, celiac disease may cause serious long-term health complications, making it imperative to recognize the indications of this disorder.

Common signs and symptoms of celiac disease are:

  • Bloating
  • Weakness or fainting
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Pain, tingling, or numbness in the feet
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Dental caries
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis rash, typically on the buttocks, elbows, or knees (referred to as “celiac rash”)
  • Loose bowel movements
  • Excess gas
  • Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

What can I expect from a celiac disease diagnosis?

The gastrointestinal specialists at Colorado Gastroenterology conduct diagnostic screenings and help individuals with celiac disease in Denver, CO manage this condition. To test for celiac disease, our team will start by gathering a detailed health and family history. Because patients who have an immediate relative with celiac disease have a 10% chance of being affected by the disorder, it is important to evaluate family history at the beginning. From there, our physicians will review symptoms and provide a physical exam. Our specialists may evaluate the following factors throughout this exam:

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

Our GI team might additionally recommend a variety of celiac disease tests, which could include blood work, biopsies of a skin rash or the small bowel, DNA testing, and further options. These results could offer us a more in-depth understanding of the symptoms and any potential for autoimmune disorders associated with celiac disease.

How is celiac disease treated?

Although celiac disease can lead to serious consequences without proper care, it can be fairly easy to control. We generally recommend managing celiac disease with a gluten-free diet, which entails avoiding specific grains, particularly barley, rye, and wheat. Patients can find a substantial amount of information surrounding gluten-free diets on the internet these days, but our GI specialists recommend meeting with a nutritionist who can help guide this transition, as gluten is commonly found in a variety of household items. Some common substances that may have gluten are:

  • Play-Doh
  • Lip gloss or lipstick
  • Toothpaste
  • Some OTC medications

Get treatment for celiac disease in Denver, CO

Celiac disease entails much more than a gluten intolerance. The condition targets the small bowel and can lead to long-lasting damage if left untreated. If you or a member of your family notices any symptoms of celiac disease or has a parent or sibling with the disorder, schedule a visit at Colorado Gastroenterology to be screened or start treatment as early as possible. To learn more about digestive concerns or to seek help for celiac disease in Denver, CO, contact our GI specialists today.