Although it was once thought that Celiac Disease was something that showed up only in youth, more recent studies have indicated that facing the disease at an older age is more common than we may have thought.
Celiac disease is something that has gained a great deal more attention over recent years, with the gluten-free diet becoming more common now than it ever has been before. While most of the attention and literature surrounding Celiac Disease is centered around children and young adults, seniors facing the symptoms of the disease, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed, can encounter various harmful health concerns. For this reason, developing an understanding of Celiac disease, its symptoms, and how to address associated concerns is important for seniors and their caregivers.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac Disease is a condition of digestion that causes an immune reaction within the small intestine whenever a person eats foods containing the protein gluten. This immune reaction causes damage to the inner surfaces of intestines and prevents them from absorbing important and vital nutrients. Some common gluten-containing foods are bread, pasta, pizza, baked-goods, and any other food containing wheat or certain other grains. Gluten is also present within a lot of processed food.
Potential Signs of Celiac Disease
There are a variety of symptoms associated with Celiac Disease that can cause problems. Seniors who are facing a combination of the following symptoms on a regular basis should consult their doctor to discuss possible causes and whether Celiac Disease may be the culprit.
- Abdominal Pain
- Muscle Cramping
- Joint Pain
- Tingling in Extremities
- Mood Changes (i.e. Irritability, Depression, etc.)
- Atypical Stool
Diagnosing Celiac Disease
Celiac Disease is not always easy to identify, and it may take a while to arrive at the right diagnosis. The methods most often utilized to identify Celiac Disease are:
- Skin Biopsy: From the small intestine to check for problems
- Blood Test: To check for unusual amounts of antibodies
- Image Capture: Of the small intestine through a swallow-able camera
Should a senior find out that they have Celiac Disease, there are some dietary changes that are necessary to allow the small intestines time to heal and get back to working as they should. Removing gluten from the diet can be challenging, especially because of how many foods contain it. For this reason, is can be helpful to consult a medical professional, nutritionist, or dietician for help and guidance with appropriate foods and how to make the transition to a new diet as easy and healthy as possible.
Celiac Disease can cause discomfort, unease, and multiple negative health impacts, but once the disease has been identified, learning to adjust and adapt is possible for seniors with the support of their loved-ones, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.