Symptoms of Celiac Disease in Children: Know the Signs
Celiac disease symptoms in children are not easily detectable, but there are certain signs that should be taken seriously if you think your child is struggling with this condition.
“Unlike adults, when it comes to children and celiac disease, most children experience digestive symptoms,” says Christy Shatlock, MS/RD, one of the lead dietitians for BistroMD. “Some of the most noticeable digestive symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping.”
How Do I Know If It’s Celiac?
Luckily, celiac disease symptoms in children are slightly more profound than celiac disease symptoms in adults.
“Children experience more digestive and physical symptoms than adults,” says Christy. “If you suspect that your child may have celiac, it’s important that you monitor their diet, and that you pay attention to their physical reactions to the foods they eat.”
Children eat a lot of foods that contain gluten, like breads and cereals, so a simple test would be to do a comparison of your child's physical reactions when they eat these foods versus if you eliminate these foods from their diet for a week.
“If your child feels noticeably better once you eliminate these foods from their diet, you should get them tested right away for celiac disease,” says Christy. “Once you know for sure, you can start adjusting their diet and lifestyle to help them cope with the condition.”
What is Gluten Sensitivity?
Celiac disease symptoms in your child may not be a definite guarantee that your child has the condition.
“If your child tests negative for celiac disease, he or she may just suffer from gluten sensitivity,” says Christy. “Gluten sensitivity differs from celiac disease in that it creates an entirely different and distinct response in your immune system.”
Gluten sensitivity is not as extreme as celiac disease, but your child could still experience some of the same symptoms. This is why testing your child for celiac disease is so important.
What is the Cure for Celiac Disease?
As of now, there is no medical cure for celiac disease. If your child suffers from difficult celiac disease symptoms, or has been diagnosed with the condition, the best known solution is a gluten-free diet.
“When it comes to treating celiac disease symptoms in children, the best method of treatment is a gluten-free diet,” says Christy. “There are many foods your child can eat that are naturally gluten free. These include: fresh meats, rice, quinoa, potatoes, rice, and a wide variety of vegetables.”
A gluten-free diet is healthy, and it actually encourages healthy eating habits.
When looking for gluten-free foods, it is extremely important that you pay close attention to food labels. There are many processed food that do contain gluten, and some foods may contain gluten without you even knowing.
“Many processed foods contain gluten, and there are some foods that contain gluten that you wouldn’t even think of,” says Christy. “When reading the label, avoid purchasing foods that contain wheat, rye, barley, or malt. You should also pay close attention to things like cakes, certain snacks, and fruits.”
Here is a list of overlooked foods that may contain gluten:
Sauces and gravy
Vegetarian meat substitutes
Celiac disease symptoms in children can make quality of life difficult, which is why it is so critical that you get your child tested right away if you think they may have this condition.
“Celiac disease symptoms can be treatable by implementing a gluten-free diet into your child’s lifestyle,” says Christy. “As a parent, it’s important that you make yourself aware of what you need to do to make your child’s life more comfortable when it comes to living with this condition.”
To read more helpful advice from the experts at BistroMD, please visit our healthy facts section to learn more about celiac disease and how its symptoms can be treated.