Celiac Q & A

In this article we’d like to present some common questions and provide answers that we hope will prove helpful.

Q: What is celiac disease?
A: Celiac disease is a condition where there is an adverse reaction to gluten. Gluten is a protein chain found in some grains. The reaction causes damage to the small intestine and leads to nutrient malabsorption.

Q: What are celiac disease symptoms?
A: Unfortunately there is no typical symptom list. Some people experience no symptoms. Celiac disease symptoms in adults can include diarrhea, weight loss, gas, and severe abdominal pain. Some individuals also develop dermatitis herpetiformis which is a related disease where an extremely itchy rash appears.

Q: Who is impacted by this disease?
A: This condition primarily impacts people over the age of 20. Celiac disease in children is rare, but does occur.

Q: What is the suggested treatment?
A: There is no medication available to treat this disease. The standard recommendation is to avoid all foods containing gluten, including foods that are typically gluten free but that may have come in contact with gluten during processing. Gluten can be found in wheat, rye, barley and most oats are processed along with gluten-containing grains so are not safe for individuals with celiac disease.

Q: Are there support groups or other ways to get help?
A: Yes! There are several support groups in all parts of the country. To get more information on a local support group, call one of the following:

American Celiac Society 973-325-8837
Canadian Celiac Society 905-507-6208
Gluten Intolerance Group of North America 206-246-6652

Q: Where can I find gluten free food?
A: There are lots of gluten free retailers online. There are also a number of them that provide a catalog. More and more mainstream grocery stores are offering a selection of gluten free foods and most health food stores have a gluten free section.

Q: Can I drink alcohol?
A: Absolutely. Wine, tequila, sake, rum and vodka are generally safe. Grain alcohols are controversial. While distillation should remove all gluten, some individuals report problems with them. There are also many brewers that are introducing various types of gluten free beer that are definitely worth investigating.

We hope that the above Q&A has been helpful in learning more about celiac disease. Remember, if you or someone you love has been diagnosed with this disease – you’re definitely not alone. There are many resources available to help you learn about the disease, treatment and leading a gluten free lifestyle.