How is it diagnosed?
Celiac disease can be notoriously difficult to diagnose, especially among the elderly who, research has shown, tend to exhibit more understated symptoms than younger people.
The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University says that the average person with celiac in the United States will experience a nine year window of time between the start of their symptoms and a formal diagnosis of the disease.
There are three main diagnostic tests a doctor can run to see if an elderly person has celiac disease;
- A blood test to look for abnormal amounts of antibodies
- A biopsy of skin from the small intestine to look for injured villi
- A camera in the form of a swallow-able pill that captures images of the inside of the small intestine
Living with celiac
As many as 34% of people that are diagnosed with celiac disease are over 60 years old, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Happily, treatment is easy to understand, if not as easy to follow through with. To experience relief from symptoms, all a person with celiac disease must do is to avoid the primary trigger: gluten.
The kicker in this directive is that gluten is a key component in a LOT of food products.
Some common foods that contain gluten include:
- Foods containing wheat, rye, or barley
Gluten-free products are quickly becoming staples on many a grocery store shelf. However, Dr. Fasano says people should exercise caution when buying foods touted as “gluten-free” as many of these products can be susceptible to cross-contamination and contain trace amounts of gluten. Even these small amounts may be detrimental to the health of a person suffering from celiac disease.
A gluten-free diet should help the colon calm down and begin healing. The time it takes to fully recover from the damage caused by celiac disease is anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on the extent of the injury and the individual person. It is likely that it will take longer for a senior to mend than it would for a younger person.
Celiac Disease in the Elderly originally appeared on AgingCare.com.