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Sure Signs You Have Celiac Disease Like Elisabeth Hasselbeck

Doctor explains what to know about celiac disease.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

While going gluten-free may be a fad diet for some , for others it's a way of life due to celiac disease–an autoimmune disorder that's triggered when you eat foods containing gluten. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2 million Americans live with the chronic digestive disease, including former TV personality Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who has been open about her struggle and even wrote a book about it titled Deliciously G-Free: Food So Flavorful They'll Never Believe It's Gluten-Free.

In honor of Celiac Awareness Month, we spoke with Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies who explained what to know about the disease and signs that indicate you may have it, Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


What is Celiac Disease?

Young woman suffers, writhes in abdominal pain lying on couch in living room at home interior

Dr. Mitchell says, "Celiac disease is a severe health condition that affects the digestive system. When someone with a gluten intolerance consumes gluten-containing foods, such as wheat, barley, and rye. In people with celiac disease, consuming gluten triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine lining, interfering with nutrient absorption and leading to a host of unpleasant symptoms. These can include diarrhea, stomach pain, bloating, fatigue, and weight loss. While there is no cure for celiac disease, maintaining a gluten-free diet is crucial in managing its symptoms and preventing long-term complications. With proper treatment and ongoing support from a medical team and loved ones, many people with celiac disease can lead happy and healthy lives."

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You're Always Tired

Woman recovering from an illness in bed at home.

Dr. Mitchell explains, "Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. When people with celiac disease eat gluten foods, it triggers an immune response in the small intestine. This response can damage the lining of the small intestine and prevent it from absorbing nutrients properly. Celiac disease is a severe autoimmune disorder that can cause long-term damage to the digestive system if not treated properly. While there are a variety of symptoms associated with celiac disease, one of the most common is fatigue. This fatigue is caused by the body's inability to absorb nutrients properly. When nutrients are not absorbed properly, the body does not have the energy it needs to function correctly. This can lead to fatigue and weakness, even after getting a good night's sleep. If you are experiencing fatigue and think you may have celiac disease, it is essential to talk to your doctor to get started on treatment. You can live a healthy and happy life despite having celiac disease with proper treatment."

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You Have Digestive Problems

stomach problems

"Celiac disease is a condition that affects the digestive system," says Dr. Mitchell. "People with celiac disease experience severe gastrointestinal symptoms that can make it difficult to digest and process food properly. The most common digestive problems caused by celiac include diarrhea, gas, bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. However, several underlying factors contribute to these issues. First and foremost, the impaired function of the small intestine accompanying celiac disease can result in difficulty absorbing nutrients from food. This leads to nutritional deficiencies affecting overall health, including gastrointestinal function. Additionally, inflammation in the gut caused by ongoing exposure to gluten in people with celiac signals to the immune system that more white blood cells should be sent to this area, resulting in further damage. Finally, changes in the composition of gut bacteria as a result of an unhealthy diet contribute to many digestive problems associated with this condition. By understanding the underlying factors behind these digestive problems and addressing them accordingly, people with celiac can achieve better overall gastrointestinal health and reduce their risk for chronic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome."

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You're Losing Weight

weight gain

Dr. Mitchell.says, "When people think of celiac disease, they often think of uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, gas, and diarrhea. They may not realize that celiac disease can also cause weight loss. There are a few reasons for this. First, celiac disease can cause damage to the intestines, which makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients from food. This can lead to malnourishment and weight loss. Second, celiac disease can also cause an increase in appetite. While this may seem counterintuitive, it's a result of the body's attempt to compensate for the malabsorption of nutrients. The body essentially goes into "starvation mode" and starts craving more food to get its nutrients. However, these cravings often go unmet, leading to weight loss. Finally, celiac disease can also cause fatigue and headaches. This can make it challenging to maintain a healthy lifestyle and make healthy food choices. These factors can contribute to weight loss in people with celiac disease."

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You Have Anemia

Woman anemia

"Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the patient has a severe reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye," Dr. Mitchell states. "While this condition can affect any part of the body, one of the main symptoms associated with celiac is anemia. Anemia occurs when there are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body, resulting in low levels of iron and other vital nutrients. Several factors contribute to celiac-related anemia. For one thing, poor absorption of nutrients from food can lead to deficiencies and malnourishment. Additionally, chronic inflammation caused by celiac can damage existing red blood cells and make it more difficult for the body to produce new ones. Furthermore, nutrient deficiencies can lead to common symptoms of anemia such as fatigue, weakness, pale skin, and dizziness. Although there is no cure for celiac disease, management strategies and lifestyle changes can help manage the condition and prevent complications like anemia. For example, eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of iron-rich foods like leafy greens and red meat may be helpful for those struggling with celiac disease-related anemia. Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise."

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You Have Mouth Ulcers

Woman with mirror

Dr. Mitchell shares, "One symptom of celiac disease is mouth ulcers, also known as canker sores. These ulcers can be painful and make it difficult to eat or drink. They usually appear in the lining of the mouth or on the tongue. Despite their commonality, the exact cause of mouth ulcers is unknown. Some scientists believe that an autoimmune reaction to gluten causes them, while others believe that they result from a bacterial or viral infection. Whatever the cause, celiac disease is thought to be a contributing factor. Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine. This damage prevents the absorption of nutrients, including iron, calcium, and vitamin B12.  Mouth ulcers are just one manifestation of this malabsorption. People with celiac disease may also experience fatigue, unintended weight loss, and diarrhea."

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How Celiac Disease Can Affect Your Overall Health and Well-Being

Sad woman in anticipation of an order.

Dr. Mitchell says, "When people think of celiac disease, they often think of it as a gastrointestinal disorder. However, celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that can affect the entire body. People with celiac disease are intolerant to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. When gluten comes into contact with the small intestine lining, it causes damage and prevents nutrients from being absorbed properly. This can lead to symptoms, including fatigue, bloating, diarrhea, and weight loss. Celiac disease can also cause problems beyond the gastrointestinal tract, such as anemia, osteoporosis, infertility, and nerve damage. In severe cases, celiac disease can even lead to death. Celiac disease is a severe condition that requires lifelong dietary changes. However, following a gluten-free diet can help people with celiac disease to live long and healthy lives."

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What Causes Celiac Disease?

happy family on couch

Dr. Mitchell states, "People with celiac disease are intolerant to gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. When people with celiac disease eat foods that contain gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging the lining of the small intestine. This can lead to various symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, and weight loss. In some cases, celiac disease can also cause anemia and skin rashes. The exact cause of the celiac disease is unknown, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors."

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Don't Wait to See a Doctor

patient speaking with doctor

Dr. Mitchell states, "If you think you might have celiac disease, it's essential to see a doctor for a diagnosis. Celiac disease is a severe condition that can cause long-term damage to the digestive system, so it's critical to get treatment as soon as possible." And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather