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Celiac Disease (Gluten Allergy) in New Jersey

The Digestive Health and Nutrition Center has two convenient locations in Lawrenceville and Princeton, New Jersey where you and your family can receive the exceptional care you deserve. Dr. Angela Merlo is an experienced specialist in Gastroenterology and expert in the diagnosis and treatment of Celiac disease in adults and children.

What is Celiac Disease and Gluten Allergy?

Celiac disease is a condition when the body’s immune system responds abnormally to a protein called gluten that is found in wheat, rye and barley. The reaction to gluten causes damage to the lining of the small intestine that leads to disruption of the digestion of foods that do not contain gluten. The result is diminished absorption of nutrients and vitamins. Proper digestive functions are restored upon withdrawal of gluten from the diet. Symptoms vary with the severity of the disorder and include

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chronic or recurrent diarrhea
  • Gas and bloating
  • Growth failure in children
  • Unintentional weight loss

Some people with gluten allergy also have arthritis, skin rashes or dermatitis, and eosinophilic esophagitis.

How is Celiac Disease Diagnosed?

Unfortunately, skin tests and some blood tests are not reliable. Dr. Merlo is expert at performing the right tests and interpreting the results to provide the right diagnosis. Tests may include blood antibodies, genetic tests, biopsy of the small intestine during upper endoscopy, and wireless capsule endoscopy of the small intestine.
Not all people with gluten sensitivity have Celiac disease. And other disorders of the digestive system mimic the symptoms of Celiac disease. A few examples are lactose intolerance, bacterial overgrowth , Inflammatory Bowel Diseases such as Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis , and IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome . Breath hydrogen tests and colonoscopy are among the tests that are useful for eliminating other possible disorders. The diagnosis is important as individuals with Celiac disease are at increased risk to develop other conditions such as

  • Diabetes
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Liver disease
  • Lymphoma
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Osteoporosis
  • Thyroid disorder
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency

And Celiac disease carries important implications to family members who should be screened once the diagnosis is obtained.

What is the Treatment of Gluten Allergy?

Avoiding gluten is critical for restoring health. Carefully read labels on cosmetics, ointments and creams, vitamin supplements and medications as these may contain gluten or ingredients that have had contact with gluten. Today, there is heightened awareness of gluten allergies ad there are many readily available options for following a gluten-free diet.

If you or your child have symptoms and are concerned about the possibility of Celiac disease, contact the Digestive Health & Nutritional Center at the Lawrenceville or Princeton, New Jersey office. Dr. Merlo will expedite your care.