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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Life Without Gluten: Celiac Sprue

Celiac Disease is an inherited, autoimmune disease in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged from eating gluten and other proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats. Celiac disease is one of the most under-diagnosed diseases seen by primary care physicians and one of the most common genetic diseases worldwide. The average delay from the onset of symptoms to diagnosis is 11 years in the United States.

Classic symptoms of Celiac Sprue include chronic diarrhea, anorexia, gas, abdominal distention, weight loss, lethargy and anemia. Atypical symptoms include abdominal discomfort, loose stools, constipation, and nausea. A biopsy and blood testing is required to diagnosis Celiac Sprue, while the patient is on a gluten-containing diet.

The only treatment is the life-long complete elimination of gluten from the diet, which can be found in: barley, bran, Bulgar, graham, rye, semolina, wheat, wheat germ, starch, bread, pasta ,crackers, cereals, broths, sauces, processed meat, soup base, soy sauce, beer, candy, even mouthwashes and cosmetics.

It is important to manage Celiac with:
  • Consultation with a skilled dietician
  • Education about the disease
  • Lifelong adherence to gluten-free diet
  • Identification and treatment of nutritional deficiencies
  • Access to an advocacy group
  • Continuous long-term follow-up by a multi-disciplinary team
Living with Celiac can be tough for teens, but the longer you live with the restrictions, the easier it gets.

Photo Credit: Whatsername?
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.