Celiac disease is a permanent intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and some oats. Many food manufacturers use these grains and products derived from the grains as fillers, so gluten is often "hidden" in our diet.
Celiac disease, also referred to as sprue, occurs in people who are genetically susceptible. When foods containing gluten are eaten they cause an inflammatory response in the intestines. The inflammation damages the wall of the intestines, which then results in poor absorption of vitamins, minerals and calories. Some of the signs and symptoms include diarrhea, digestive problems, joint pain, short stature, iron-deficiency anemia, and lactose intolerance.
Completely eliminating gluten from the diet is the only way to effectively treat celiac disease. This is difficult to do, and requires major lifestyle changes.
Atlantic General Hospital now hosts a support group for individuals with celiac disease and their families the second Thursday of every month. The next meeting will be held Thursday, March 8 in Conference Room #1, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
For more information about the support group, please contact Betty Bellarin at 410-603-0210.
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