Open Accessibility Menu

What is Celiac Disease?

What is Celiac Disease?

Living With Celiac Disease

As seniors age, they are more likely to develop additional conditions that they may not have experienced earlier in life. At the same time, some seniors may find it difficult to manage existing conditions. One common condition that can affect your aging loved one's daily lifestyle is celiac disease.

Celiac Disease: Explained

Celiac disease is also called celiac sprue, nontropical sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy. It is a common immune reaction to gluten that damages the small intestine lining. People with celiac disease can't eat gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. This makes it hard for the body to absorb nutrients from food.

Who is at Risk?

Celiac disease is a common condition that affects seniors, affecting about 1% of people in the United States. This condition also commonly coexists with other diseases such as type 1 diabetes, autoimmune thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Down syndrome. Celiac disease also runs in families, so understanding your family's history is key to early diagnosis. A blood test and a small intestine biopsy are needed to test for the condition.

Celiac disease can develop at any age, but it's most commonly diagnosed in children and adults younger than 30 years old. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with celiac disease than men.

There is no cure for celiac disease, but the condition can be managed by avoiding gluten. People with celiac disease who eat gluten can increase their risk of serious health problems.

Recognizing Symptoms

Symptoms of celiac disease can vary from person to person. Some people have very severe symptoms, while others have very mild symptoms. Symptoms can also come and go. The most common symptoms of celiac disease are digestive problems, such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Fatigue

Other less common symptoms of celiac disease that also affect seniors include:

  • Anemia
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Headaches or fatigue
  • Itchy skin rash
  • Missed or irregular periods
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is essential to see your doctor so that you can be properly diagnosed and treated.