Celiac Disease Treatment
What Are the Options for Celiac Disease Treatment?
Celiac disease treatment focuses on removing gluten from the diet. This is the only way to reduce or eliminate symptoms and allow the intestines to heal. People with celiac disease typically work with a dietitian to learn about the wide variety of foods and food additives that may contain gluten. Then, they create a diet plan that lets them avoid gluten while still eating all the essential nutrition required for a healthy lifestyle. While the immediate symptoms of celiac disease, such as bowel irritation, may subside within a few weeks of starting this new diet, it takes much longer for the digestive system to return to normal. A life-long commitment to remaining gluten-free is required to prevent the recurrence of the disease.
Additional Treatments for Celiac Patients
Patients who have dermatitis herpetiformis (a blistering skin rash associated with celiac disease) may be placed on a sulfur-based antibiotic called Dapsone to prevent or limit further outbreaks. Steroids may be given by injection to reduce acute inflammation in the intestines.
For people with advanced intestinal damage, nutritional supplementation is an important part of the healing process. They may need to take vitamins and minerals orally or have injections to provide optimal nutrition until they begin absorbing enough nutrients from their food again. These vitamins and minerals include:
- Vitamin B-12
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K
Some patients require lifelong supplementation.
What If Celiac Disease Treatment Doesn’t Work?
For most people with CD, a gluten-free diet works effectively to promote health and well-being. However, there are some individuals who don’t get better and continue to have an abnormal immune response even when they are on the diet. In some cases, this is because they are still eating small amounts of gluten without realizing it. If all gluten has been eliminated but symptoms and gut inflammation still persist, this is called “refractory celiac disease”. Immunosuppression therapy with corticosteroids may be recommended as an alternative treatment for celiac disease.