Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What is Celiac Disease?

May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month.  In honor of that, I asked my sister-in-law, Sharalyn to write a post about Celiac Disease.  Sharalyn was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2012 and blogs at The Gluten Free Momma.  Her blog is full of useful tips, reviews, and information about living with Celiac Disease.

What is Celiac Disease? Learn the signs and symptoms.
Sharalyn with her husband and kids

Celiacs is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system builds antibodies that attack the lining of the small intestine when gluten is consumed.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. 

What is Celiac Disease? Learn the signs and symptoms.

We all have "villi" that line our intestines that looks similar to a shaggy rug. Each one of the villi has its own unique job to do, and each one helps us absorb a certain nutrient. If someone with Celiac Disease consumes gluten, the small intestines will become inflamed and the villi will be damaged/worn down. Over time this can result in malnutrition, other diseases, and even death

What is Celiac Disease? Learn the signs and symptoms.
Illustration of villi in the small intestines

It is estimated that 1 in 133 people have Celiac Disease or CD, and 83% of people who are affected are either undiagnosed or mis-diagnosed.


It is estimated that 1 in 133 people have #CeliacDisease. Learn more at


There is no known cure for CD.  The symptoms can be treated and the intestines healed by adhering to a STRICT gluten free diet. 

There are 300 known Celiac symptoms but here are a few of the more common ones: 
  • Fatigue 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Diarrhea/Constipation 
  • Nausea 
  • Gas/indigestion 
  • Malnutrition 
  • Skin rash 
  • Headaches 
  • Hair loss 
  • Weight loss/gain 
  • Failure to thrive in children
  • Missed periods/miscarriages 
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Joint pain 
  • Bone density loss 
  • Foggy brain 
  • Depression/Anxiety 
Some people with CD don't have any symptoms at all.  Women are more likely to present noticeable symptoms while men are more likely to have very few or no symptoms. 

It's not easy having CD. I was diagnosed in October 2012, and it changed my whole life. I used to be able to go to the mall and order a pretzel with cheese or eat breaded shrimp, pizza, donuts, pasta, etc. But I was plagued with constipation, water retention, and weight I couldn't seem to loose, no matter how hard I tried.

My appearance and inability to loose weight always made me self-conscious, and I found it difficult to accept myself. As a teenager, I struggled with depression and anxiety and found it very difficult to concentrate in school. It was hard to retain information, and I was sent to special ed. I was always tired and suffered from periodic nausea.

What is Celiac Disease? Learn the signs and symptoms.

When I started having kids, my body began showing more symptoms of CD. I had severe abdominal pain that would cause me to curl up on the couch in the fetal position. At first the pain would occur once a month around my period, but then it started happening more frequently. I knew something was wrong, but I didn't want to face the reality by going to the doctor.

One day while home alone with the kids, my stomach pain came back, only this time it was unbearable. I could hardly make it from the kitchen to the living room, let alone call my mother on my phone. I didn't know what was going on, and I seriously thought I was dying. The intense pain I felt in my stomach was constant. It felt like my intestines were twisting and ripping apart. I realized that I couldn't ignore this pain any longer.   

I needed to go see a doctor right away.

What is Celiac Disease? Learn the signs and symptoms.
When I spoke to my doctor about the symptoms I was having, he thought it was probably food related. My mom had suggested that I ask my doctor to check me for CD because she had recently heard about it. My doctor ordered the Tissue Transglutaminase (tTG), antibody, and IgA test. The test came back positive. It was such a huge shock for me. I was scared and depressed.  What did this mean for me?  Was I going to die? Questions flooded my mind.

The doctor told me to immediately go on a gluten free diet. Unfortunately, I wasn't given very much information to start my new diet.

I would be lying to you if I told you that my first experience with gluten free food was a good one. I went out and bought a few items despite my lack of knowledge about which ones would be good. I thought that rice bread would be okay, but when I bit into it, it tasted like chewed up medicine. "If this is how disgusting my food is going to be for the rest of my life, I don't know how I'm going to deal with it." I thought. But I'm determined, and I decided to go on a search for better tasting gluten free food

I started a blog called "The Gluten Free Momma" where I help educate those who were recently diagnosed with CD and those who are gluten free for other reasons. On my blog, you will find product reviews  for everything from gluten free condiments to frozen meals. I even have restaurant reviews.

I may have Celiac Disease but Celiac Disease does not have me. I can still enjoy the same foods everyone else does, they may just be a little different and cost a bit more. 


I may have #CeliacDisease but Celiac Disease does not have me. Learn more at!

CD is a serious disease that cannot be ignored. If you or someone you know suffers from any of the symptoms above, talk to your doctor. It could save a life. And remember, if the test comes back positive, it's not the end. It's just the beginning of a new healthy adventure.

This post is linked up at: 1.
A Wise Woman Builds Her Home 2. Marilyn's Treats 3. You're Sew Trendy 4. Holly McBerty 5. Grammie Time 6. Katherine's Corner 7. The Deliberate Mom 8. You Are a Daisy 9. Cord of 6   10. A Bountiful Love 11. Being Fibro Mom 12. Love That Max 13. Create With Joy 14. A Different Dream