Donald Kirby, M.D. – ‘Celiac Disease: When Gluten-Free is a Necessity’

Donald Kirby, M.D. – ‘Celiac Disease: When Gluten-Free is a Necessity’

Cleveland Clinic News Service – May 23,2017

CLEVELAND – ‘Gluten-free’ products are becoming more prevalent in the local grocery store. But for folks who suffer from celiac disease, ‘gluten-free’ is not a trendy diet –it’s necessary to keep their disease in remission.

Celiac disease is an auto-immune disorder that causes folks to experience gastrointestinal distress after consuming foods with gluten, which is protein from wheat, rye and barley.

According to Donald Kirby, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, the biggest challenge for folks with celiac disease is finding foods that they can safely eat.

“Gluten is hidden in so many different things that it’s not easy to go to the annual picnic and find things that you can actually eat – can’t have those hamburger rolls or the hot dog buns – and you’ve got to be careful of so many different things,” said Dr. Kirby.

Celiac disease is one of the most common genetic diseases in the world, affecting around one percent of the population. Adult women are most frequently diagnosed with the disease.

Symptoms that signal a need to be screened include bloating and alternating of diarrhea and constipation. Likewise, folks who have been diagnosed with irritable bowel disease should be checked.

Screening is very simple – it’s done through a blood test. Dr. Kirby said that if the test comes back positive, doctors will perform a small bowel biopsy during an upper endoscopy procedure.

If a person is diagnosed, parents and children should also be tested, because celiac disease is genetic.

Dr. Kirby said it’s important to treat celiac disease, because when left untreated, it can cause a person to develop other auto-immune disorders, as well as nutrient deficiencies, or disorders such as lymphoma.

He said the cure is a gluten-free diet and that while challenging, making those dietary changes can greatly improve a person’s quality of life.

“By changing the diet to exclude wheat, rye and barley, hence, a gluten-free diet, you can treat the disease very well have the disease go into remission,” said Dr. Kirby.

Going on a gluten-free diet for celiac disease is for life, but it’s easier to tackle with the help of a registered dietician. Dr. Kirby said even if the disease gets better with dietary changes, it’s a good idea for folks to be followed by a doctor to make sure that it is still in remission and that their vitamin levels are where they should be.

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