Celiac disease may seem to be on the rise in recent years, and the truth is that many people are becoming more aware of the health condition, which has resulted in increased diagnoses. Celiac disease is an immune system response to gluten that can cause damage to the small intestines. Gluten is a type of protein found in many common foods. In children, this condition may develop after they are introduced to foods that contain gluten.
If you are concerned that your child has celiac disease, you are not alone. Many parents worry about this common immune disorder that can cause serious issues in their children. Read on to learn more.
Symptoms of Celiac Disease
Your first step is to assess the symptoms of celiac disease in your child. Everybody responds differently to celiac disease, which is why is has gone unnoticed for so long. Children may experience more intense gastrointestinal symptoms because they have shorter digestive tracts than adults, but you should look for a variety of signs that something is wrong.
Children with celiac disease may experience diarrhea more often than adults with the same health condition. If you notice loose, watery stools occurring frequently in your child, he or she may have celiac disease. You may also notice blood in the stools.
On the other end of the spectrum, some children become constipated, while also exhibiting symptoms like bloating and pain. They may become gassy or complain of stomach bubbles.
Celiac disease may also prompt vomiting or nausea. If your child is frequently ill after eating, you should take note of the meal they just ate. Your information could help the doctor provide a diagnosis.
Unfortunately, ongoing celiac disease can lead to issues like malnutrition because the body is not absorbing nutrients properly. The result is often issues linked to growth in young children. In fact, some children exhibit late signs of puberty as a result.
While teenagers with celiac disease often exhibit symptoms similar to children, they may also experience them more often during stressful situations. Some people do not even know they have celiac disease until something stressful occurs and activates it.
Diagnosis of Celiac Disease
Doctors frequently screen patients for celiac disease at age three. This age is so common for screening because children are often first introduced to cereals at this age. Children who have first-degree relatives, like a sibling or parent, with the condition should be screened.
A blood test is often the best way to screen for celiac disease. Doctors will perform a blood test to look for elevated levels of antibodies in your child's blood.
Doctors may also ask questions about family members with the same condition. Celiac disease does have a genetic component that can prompt the illness to develop.
Treatment for Celiac Disease
The most effective way to live with celiac disease is to cut gluten out of your diet. This means you must avoid foods containing rye, barley, and wheat. This cuts out many different types of foods containing bread.
Enjoying a gluten-free diet is beneficial for allowing the small intestine to heal. Children will stop exhibiting the symptoms when their bodies do not produce a dramatic response to the stimulus.
Parents must also keep in mind there are other ways to ingest or absorb gluten than food. For instance, some prescription medications, makeups, shampoos, and toothpastes use gluten, too. Additionally, you may need to worry about cross-contamination of foods cooked in and around gluten.
Are you unsure if testing for celiac disease is necessary? Do you want to learn more about gluten-free diets? Call Pediatric Consultants today to learn more. We offer pediatric care with compassion and quality.