Celiac Disease Specialist

Edmunds Gastroenterology

Gastroenterology located in Knoxville, TN

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which eating gluten causes inflammation and damage in the small intestine. As gluten is such a widespread ingredient in so many foods and products, avoiding it altogether can present a challenge. Meade Edmunds, MD, and his team at Edmunds Gastroenterology in Knoxville, Tennessee, are highly skilled in treating people who have celiac disease and helping them live a gluten-free life. If you have Celiac disease or any of the symptoms, call Edmunds Gastroenterology or book an appointment online.

Celiac Disease Q & A

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease (Sprue) is a condition where the patient has an immune response to a substance called gluten. Gluten is a protein found in such foods as wheat, barley, rye, and compounds such as makeup, medicines, and toothpaste.

When it’s exposed to gluten, the lining of the small bowel becomes damaged with resulting malabsorption, leading to a variety of symptoms and conditions, such as:

  • Anemia
  • Vitamin B12 or D deficiency
  • Iron deficiency
  • Fatigue
  • Dental caries
  • Osteoporosis
  • Infertility
  • Menstrual irregularity
  • Blood disorders

Diarrhea, abdominal bloating, weight loss, and abdominal pain are also very common symptoms in a patient with celiac disease.

Celiac disease can present at any time in a patient’s life. It’s most often seen in patients of Western-European ancestry and is more common in people with an Irish background.

How is celiac disease diagnosed?

Celiac disease is usually diagnosed through blood testing. Your doctor should think about celiac disease if you’re having problems with unexplained anemia, recurrent tooth decay, weight loss at an early age, or other nonspecific medical complaints.

Confirmation of the diagnosis is by biopsy of the small bowel through upper endoscopy. A patient with celiac disease will have inflammation of the lining of the cells of the small bowel and destruction of the absorptive, hair-like projections (villi) of the small bowel.

What is the treatment for celiac disease?

Diet is the mainstay treatment for celiac disease. Patients need to avoid foods made with rye, wheat, or barley. Any substance that has exposure to a patient’s skin must be checked for contamination with gluten. By avoiding gluten, you can stop further destruction of the cells lining the small bowel.

If there are associated conditions caused by celiac disease, these conditions need to be treated by replacing iron, vitamin D, or vitamin B12. Patients should be evaluated for possible bone disease due to associated osteoporosis, and once diagnosed should be treated aggressively by using medicines to enhance bone reformation.

Adherence to a strict, gluten-free diet can be followed by serial lab monitoring. Despite following a strict gluten-free diet, elevation in celiac labs could suggest exposure of gluten through foods and other non-ingestible products that the patient does not know.

Skin manifestations of celiac disease include dermatitis herpetiformis which presents as painful, itchy, red blotches on the skin, typically on the legs. Patients can have insulin-dependent diabetes, liver abnormalities, and thyroid disease associated with celiac disease. Patients may have a better risk of developing intestinal cancer and long-term bone disease with celiac disease, particularly if not effectively treated.

If you’re concerned about celiac disease, call Edmunds Gastroenterology or book an appointment online.

This information is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please consult with your primary care physician or a specialist regarding your symptoms.