Celiac Disease Specialist

Houston Regional Gastroenterology

Gastroenterology & Hepatology located in Sugar Land, TX & Humble, TX

The prevalence of celiac disease is estimated to be 1% of the general population. But your chances are higher if you have diabetes, and your risk of celiac disease is 10-times higher if the disease runs in your family. The doctors at Houston Regional Gastroenterology have the expertise to accurately diagnose celiac disease and to help you with tips for following a gluten-free diet. If you have questions about celiac disease or you want to schedule an appointment, call the Sugar Land or Humble, Texas, office, or use the online booking feature.

Celiac Disease Q & A

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, triggers. If you have celiac disease, then every time you consume gluten, your immune system attacks the small intestine.

As a result of the immune attack, the structures responsible for absorbing nutrients, called villi, become inflamed and damaged. The damage interferes with your ability to absorb nutrients.

If you continue to consume gluten, the damage gets progressively worse and affects the protective gastrointestinal barrier. Once this barrier is breached, inflammation and unwanted substances normally screened by the barrier are free to enter your bloodstream and spread throughout your body.

What symptoms develop due to celiac disease?

Celiac disease leads to a wide range of symptoms that vary based on the amount of gluten consumed, the extent of your intestinal damage, and whether problems have developed in another part of your body.

The digestive symptoms caused by celiac disease include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating and gas
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

More than half of all adults with celiac disease experience body-wide symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Itchy skin rash
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Headaches
  • Muscle wasting
  • Joint pain
  • Numbness or tingling in extremities

Nutritional deficiencies commonly lead to conditions such as osteoporosis and anemia.

How do you diagnose celiac disease?

A blood test confirms if you have immune system antibodies caused by celiac disease. But if you’re on a gluten-free diet, the blood test won’t be accurate. Your doctor at Houston Regional Gastroenterology talks with you about your diet before running the test.

The best way to diagnose celiac disease is with an endoscopy to evaluate your small intestine and take a biopsy of the damaged tissue. During an endoscopic procedure, your doctor guides a narrow tube containing a light and camera through your mouth and digestive tract into the small intestine. Your doctor passes specialized tools through the endoscope to take a small tissue sample.

How do you treat celiac disease?

The only current treatment available for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. It’s essential to eliminate all gluten from your diet because even the smallest amount will trigger an immune response. When you don’t consume gluten, your small intestine heals, and your symptoms improve.

Following a gluten-free diet can be a big change for many patients, but your provider at Houston Regional Gastroenterology helps you with tips and recommendations. 

If you have questions about celiac disease, call Houston Regional Gastroenterology or schedule an appointment online.