Lifewatch: Living with Celiac Disease

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - A woman from Pennsylvania spent eight years seeing 23 doctors before she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

When a person with the disease eats wheat, rye or barley products the glutens in the grains damage the small intestines.  But, with some simple diet changes treatment is simple.

Alice Bast would explain her symptoms to various doctors and would get various solutions.  It took a friend, who was a veterinarian, to finally suggest Bast could have celiac disease, and a blood test confirmed it.

"Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease where you can't digest the protein component of wheat, rye and barley which is gluten, and it causes havoc to your body," said Bast.

The glutens hurt the lining in the small intestines, called villi.  The damaged villi make it impossible for the body to absorb nutrients, leading to malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility, and even certain cancers.

While the disease can shorten your life, a lifelong gluten-free diet can help.