M. Katherine Nave
School of Nursing
Celiac disease is a genetic disease which affects almost one percent of the U.S. population. Surprisingly enough, almost 95% of people with celiac disease are either misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. Having celiac disease means that one’s immune system is attacking any gluten that has been ingested causing damage to the small intestine. The damage done to the small intestine will prevent absorption of necessary vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. The only way to treat celiac disease is by removing all gluten from one’s diet.
Celiac disease can be difficult to diagnose. The symptoms are generally gas, bloating, diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue. Many people suffering from these symptoms tend to self-prescribe solutions such as Pepto-Bismol or other such remedies for common indigestion. The only way to get an accurate diagnosis is from an antibody test done via a simple blood test. If necessary, a small intestine biopsy can be performed as well to provide a more concrete confirmation of the presence of the disease.
The unfortunate reality is that there is no pharmaceutical treatment available. The only solution is to go “gluten-fee.” Once gluten has been consumed, the individual will have to live with the consequences until the body has been able to rid itself of the gluten. Although the symptoms might seem bearable enough to continue consuming gluten products, there are a number of serious side effects to that decision. A person afflicted with celiac disease that goes untreated will likely suffer from infertility, some cancers, and most definitely malnutrition.
Caring for a newly diagnosed celiac patient requires educating that patient on a number of topics. The first topic being that celiac disease is not short term. It will require a lifelong lifestyle change that can be difficult for a number of people. Also, as celiac can be...