Tampa Bay/Hudson, FL – Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point announces that it hosts monthly meetings of the West Pasco celiac support group. Meetings are held on the first Saturday of every month from 10 am to 11:30 am at the Shoreline Cafeteria Conference Room of RMCBP at 14000 Fivay Road, Hudson, Florida 34667. The next meeting will be held on Saturday, May 2. Meetings are open to the public and include recipe demonstrations of a gluten-free diet. For more information about the Support Group, please call Barbara @ 727-862-4815.

The West Pasco celiac support group is dedicated to increasing awareness of Celiac disease in West Pasco. Celiac disease affects 1% of healthy average Americans. However, 97% of those who are affected are undiagnosed.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, protein and wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is found mainly in foods but may also be found in every day products such as medicines, vitamins, and lip balms. When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging or destroying villi – the tiny, fingerlike protrusions lining the small intestine. Villi normally allow nutrients from food to be absorbed through the walls of the small intestine into the blood stream. Without healthy villi, a person becomes malnourished, no matter how much food one eats.

What are the symptoms of celiac disease?

Symptoms of celiac disease vary from person to person. Symptoms may occur in the digestive system or other parts of the body. Digestive symptoms are more common in infants and young children and may include abdominal bloating and pain, chronic diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, pale, foul smelling or fatty stool, and weight loss.

Adults are less likely to have digestive symptoms and may instead have one or more of the following: unexplained iron deficiency anemia, fatigue, bone or joint pain, arthritis, bone loss or osteoporosis, depression or anxiety, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, seizures, missed menstrual periods, infertility or recurring miscarriage, canker sores inside the mouth, an itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis. People with celiac disease may have no symptoms but can still develop complications of the disease over time. Long term complications include malnutrition, which can lead to anemia, osteoporosis, and miscarriage among other problems, liver disease and cancer of the intestines.

Celiac Disease can affect men & women of any age or race, but there are certain factors that can increase the risk of developing the autoimmune disorder.  There are more than 300 symptoms of celiac disease and some people may experience no symptoms at all. Celiac Disease can be difficult to diagnose because it can present in a variety of ways.  The only treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet. 

There are other different diseases that that can co-exist with celiac such as infertility, migraine headaches, osteoporosis, type 1 diabetes and thyroid disease.

For more information, go to www.celiaccentral.org.