Patients with celiac disease are unable to tolerate the protein gluten, found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. Actually, gluten is a mixture of dozens of different proteins, which fall into two typres: glutenins and gliadins. bloating, mouth ulcers and sore tongue, painful joints, and depression.
Treatment is a Gluten-Free Diet
At present, the only treatment for celiac disease is to follow a gluten-free diet, and eliminate all foods that contain wheat, rye, barley and oats. Most celiac patients have to avoid all traces of gluten, while some celiacs can get away with eating a small amount occasionally. Also, some patients do not have to eliminate oats from their diet. On the other hand, some celiac sufferers have an acute reaction (known as celiac shock) to even the smallest amount of gluten.
Effect of Gluten-Free Diet on Symptoms of Celiac Disease
For most people, a gluten-free diet reduces symptoms and heals existing intestinal damage. Improvements may be experienced within days of starting the diet, and the small intestine is usually completely healed within 3-6 months. However, results are conditional upon the history and severity of symptoms. Thus it may take up to 2 years for older celiacs to recover fully and some problems, such as delayed growth and tooth discoloration, may never improve. Finally, a small percentage of patients do not improve. These sufferers typically have severely damaged intestines that are unresponsive even after they eliminate gluten from their diets. In such cases, drug treatment may be indicated.