Celiac disease, also known as celiac sprue, is a chronic digestive disorder classified by gluten intolerance. Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, rye and barley. It is most often found in foods like bread, pasta, and pizza crust, but can also be found in products like medicine and lipstick. While this condition was once considered rare, it now affects more than 2 million people in the United States.
When gluten is consumed, the lining of the small intestine, known as villi, become blunted and prevent food from being absorbed into the bloodstream. This leads to malabsorption. The cause of celiac disease is unknown, but it tends to run in families.
Celiac disease can cause a variety of different symptoms depending on the person. Symptoms may be gastrointestinal or related to malabsorption and may depend on the patient's age and degree of damage to the small intestine. Some common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Foul-smelling or fatty stools
- Rash on extremities
- Bone or joint pain
People with celiac disease are at a higher risk for developing other immune system disorders such as diabetes, thyroid disease, liver disease and rheumatoid arthritis. This condition may also lead to a loss of calcium and bone density, lactose intolerance and cancer. If you are showing signs of celiac disease, your doctor may perform blood tests to check for high levels of certain autoantibodies. An intestinal biopsy can confirm the diagnosis.
The only treatment for celiac disease is maintaining a gluten-free diet and life. Removing gluten from your diet will eventually repair the damage already caused to the small intestine, as well as prevent further damage. Many people work with a dietitian to develop a gluten-free diet with plenty of options and alternatives. This diet must be followed strictly in order to repair intestinal damage. Consuming even the smallest amount of gluten may cause severe abdominal symptoms or undo all the progress made.
Managing celiac disease can be frustrating. But eventually, following a gluten-free diet will become second nature and just another part of your life. Your doctor can help you stay informed about your condition and help you feel your best.
Cholecystitis is an inflammation of the gallbladder, usually from gallstones blocking the cystic duct. This allows secondary infections by E. coli and similar gastrointestinal bacteria to run rampant. The stagnant bile may also thicken and build up to the point that it causes painful pressure on the walls of the gallbladder.
This disorder usually manifests as constant, severe pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen. However, the pain may also be sharp or dull, come and go, or occur directly after a meal. An exact diagnosis is made through the use of blood tests and abdominal imaging procedures, such as CT scan, X-Ray or ultrasound.
Treatment for cholecystitis involves surgical removal of the gallbladder. Although it is not imperative to execute the surgery immediately upon diagnosis, it is generally performed soon after to avoid the possibility of a gallbladder perforation, gangrene or pancreatitis. All of these potentially life-threatening complications have a greater chance of occurring for the duration of the inflammation.