From an interview with
Dr. Chad Thornhill
McLeod Pediatric Gastroenterology
When a child’s immune system is sensitive to gluten, the child can suffer Celiac Disease. McLeod Pediatric Gastroenterologist Dr. Chad Thornhill treating this condition.
Here is an overview of Dr. Thornhill’s comments:
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition, where the immune system decide that it does not like gluten, a protein that is in wheat, barley and rye. The actual cause of celiac disease is a little bit harder to pin down. There is a bit of a genetic component to it. You must have the gene to be able to have your immune system react to the gluten. But every person that has the gene doesn’t react to the gluten. Once the body starts reacting to gluten, you feel all of the symptoms that come with celiac disease — stomach pains, trouble absorbing nutrition, a growth problem and weird stools.
Since it is immune system-related, we look at some of the antibodies associated with celiac disease to see if that’s something that we should be concerned about. There are a good number of people that have the antibodies, but do not have celiac. To officially diagnose celiac, we perform an endoscopy, a non-invasive procedure with a small tube that goes down your throat to see if there is irritation in your small intestine. While we’re there, we’re able to take small little samples to determine if the immune system is reacting to the gluten.
Treating celiac disease is both the easiest and the hardest thing ever. From a doctor’s standpoint, it is super easy, because I simply tell you to stop eating gluten. From a patient’s standpoint, you must stop eating gluten. However, it turns out gluten is in many delicious foods. Making it more difficult is the fact that gluten is not just in food. Check your shampoos and conditioners. They can contain gluten. Play-Doh even has some gluten. So, it’s an entire lifestyle overhaul.
Unfortunately, we don’t have any medications to treat celiac. It is a very much a dietary approach, which works very well, but is also very challenging for patients.
Learn more about Dr. Thornhill.