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Understanding the Differences Between Celiac Disease and Crohn’s Disease

Among other things, Crohn’s disease and celiac disease can both cause stomach troubles, but treatment is different for each condition. At Shine Health and Wellness, our board-certified physician Kimberley Shine, MD, is well-versed in both Crohn’s disease and celiac disease, and she has helped many patients manage these conditions. Read on to learn more about these conditions as well as treatment options.

What is celiac disease?

With celiac disease, consuming food that contains gluten leads to inflammation and damage of the small intestine. This condition is an autoimmune disease, which means the body signals an inflammatory response to the gluten, which leads the body to attack the lining of the small intestine.

Gluten is the main culprit of this condition. It’s found in foods that contain barley, wheat, and rye. Children with celiac disease are likely to develop digestive problems, such as diarrhea. While adults with celiac disease can develop digestive problems, too, they may have a higher chance of developing other symptoms, such as:

What is Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disorder, and it can affect your entire digestive tract. It’s unknown what actually triggers the disease. 

There are several types of Crohn’s disease, such as ileitis and gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease. Each type affects a different part of the gastrointestinal system. Some of the common symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:

Studies also show that people with celiac disease have a higher chance of developing Crohn’s disease.

How the two conditions differ

Cause

The most obvious difference between the two disorders is the cause. Celiac disease is caused by an inflammatory response to gluten, whereas Crohn’s disease doesn’t have a clear cause.

Diagnosis

Another way these two diseases differ is in the way they’re diagnosed. If Dr. Shine suspects celiac disease, you’ll need a procedure called an endoscopic biopsy.

With Crohn's disease, you’ll need a colonoscopy and an upper endoscopy to look at your colon and small intestine.

Treatment

Treatment between the two disorders is another way they’re different. The main treatment for celiac disease is eliminating gluten from your diet. A gluten-free diet may eliminate the symptoms of celiac disease and allow your intestines to heal.

Treatment for Crohn’s disease involves medications, and, in some cases, surgery to remove damaged areas of the digestive tract. The medications you may be prescribed could include antibiotics and immune system suppressants. Dr. Shine may also recommend dietary restrictions to help ease your symptoms.

If you’re dealing with stomach issues and don’t know what the culprit is, book an appointment online or over the phone with Shine Health and Wellness today.

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