Celiac and Bloating
Celiac and bloating often accompany each other. In fact, bloating is a common symptom of celiac disease. In this post I will cover what bloating is, why it happens, and how to cope with it.
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Celiac Disease 101
In order to understand the why behind celiac bloating, we must first understand celiac disease.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that causes damage to the villi in the small intestine when gluten is consumed.
Villi are the hair-like projections in your small intestine responsible for nutrient absorption. When villi are damaged it can cause a wide array of symptoms like bloating, constipation, nutrient malabsorption, and more.
Essentially, celiac disease is a serious disease that impacts the functionality of your small intestine. Along with this comes over 300 reported symptoms.
So what is the treatment for celiac? A gluten-free lifestyle (notice I say lifestyle, and not diet). Or in other words, the treatment involves eating gluten-free for the rest of your life (or until a cure is found).
A gluten-free lifestyle should help reduce all symptoms as the small intestine heals, and you avoid gluten.
Side note: you can’t self-diagnose celiac disease. Meaning if you have a symptom, like bloating, that’s associated with celiac disease, that doesn’t mean you have celiac. You have to be tested for celiac disease (an intestinal biopsy is the gold standard) to know if you have it.
What is Bloating
Now that we know what celiac disease is, let’s talk about bloating. Bloating is when your belly feels swollen and tight. Or as Beyond Celiac puts it,
Bloating can cause abnormal swelling of the abdomen. This results in the feeling of a full or tight abdomen and is often accompanied by discomfort and pain.
Celiac and Bloating
So how are celiac and bloating related? Bloating is one of the most common 300+ known symptoms of celiac disease. In fact, gluten can cause extreme bloating and gas in those with celiac disease
Bloating likely occurs because of the increased inflammation in the digestive tract when gluten is eaten. Meaning when someone with celiac eats gluten, the damage it causes to the small intestine results in bloating.
That being said, just because it is a known symptom, doesn’t mean that if you have bloating that it’s a sign you have celiac disease or that you’ve been exposed to gluten.
Bloating can be natural body response to digestion. However, it also can be a sign of underlying issues. If you’re concerned about your bloating, be sure to consult an appropriate health-care professional.
Other Causes of Bloating
Bloating can be caused by celiac disease and it can be caused by other things related and unrelated.
Bloating can be caused by gluten ingestion with celiac. It can also be caused by:
- extreme stress around meal-time
- eating large meals
- skipping meals
- eating too fast
- unaddressed food intolerances
- known gas inducing foods
- menstruation (learn more about celiac and women’s health here)
- other medical conditions
If you’re having trouble figuring out if your bloating is celiac or food related, a dietitian like myself can help you figure out what’s going on.
What Helps with Celiac Bloating?
Below are tips on alleviating bloating with celiac disease:
- Figure out what’s causing your bloating and resolve it if you can!
- Sip on mint, ginger, or other carminative herbal teas. (Carminatives are known to help with gas).
- Rest and destress. Stress can make symptoms worse so taking time to relax can be beneficial.
- Wear comfy clothes (this one is important!).
- Soak in a hot bath or take a hot shower. There’s nothing like warm water to help relieve tension.
- Use a heating pad (I wear one around my waist when things get bad).
- Cozy up in your bed with comfy blankets and pillows. Staying as comfortable as possible is of the highest priority.
- Try some gentle stretching. Sometimes if it’s really bad, some simple slow stretching can help relief some of the tension (atleast for me).
- Stomach massage for bloating to relax tension in the abdomen.
- Consider working with a celiac dietitian to find out if other foods are causing you distress. A lot of dietitians specialize in help people cope and manage their GI distress triggered by foods.
- Be gentle with yourself. Your body needs a moment, don’t be too hard on it OR yourself.
- Lastly, my biggest tip is to develop a self-care plan for days plagued by bloating.