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Gastroenterology Blog

Celiac Vs. Crohn’s: Differences and Similarities

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Jun 22, 2018 @ 12:59 PM

celiac vs crohn'sWe all experience stomach pains from time to time and normally pay little mind to it. It could have been caused by something you ate, how much you ate, a night of drinking, nervousness, or countless other reasons. However, if you feel like you have a persisting problem that leaves you running to the bathroom or experiencing painful stomach cramps day after day, you may have a chronic condition like Crohn’s or Celiac disease.

These conditions are very similar in nature and it is possible for one individual to have both conditions; however, there are also some key differences which distinguish the two.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac is an autoimmune disorder in which the body does not properly digest a protein called gluten that is found in grains like barley, wheat, and rye.  Instead of processing it normally, the body recognizes gluten as something foreign and triggers the immune system to attack the small intestine. 

A strict gluten-free diet is the best treatment for celiac disease. This means eliminating foods made from or processed with gluten, including bread, corn, rice, soy, beans, flax, oats, pasta, flour, cereals, and processed lunch meats.

What is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease, on the other hand, is an inflammatory bowel condition. There is no known cause for Crohn’s other than potential links to genetics and family history.  By causing inflammation in the lining of the digestive tract, Crohn’s leads to complications that are not typical symptoms of celiac disease.  These complications are typically how doctors can distinguish between the diseases before any real diagnostic tests are run.

In addition to the digestive tract, Crohn’s often causes inflammation in the eyes and joints as well. Sufferers may also notice bloody stool, as the disease normally causes the most inflammation in the lower half of the digestive tract.

There are, of course, dietary restrictions which can help manage Crohn’s disease. Many patients cannot eat dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter and find it helpful to eat foods that are high in fiber like broccoli, spinach, apples, and other fruits and veggies. Some people with Crohn’s opt for a gluten free diet as well, but there is currently no research that supports the necessity of a gluten free diet for those afflicted with Crohn’s disease.  Treatments for Crohn’s includes medication and sometimes surgery for severe cases where other options have failed.

Have a Doctor Distinguish Between Celiac or Crohn’s 

If you feel that you are suffering from either condition, don’t guess.  Instead, schedule a visit with your general practitioner. They will often refer you to a specialist such as those at Gastroenterology Associates for a definitive diagnosis and development of an appropriate course of treatment. You may also schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist yourself by contacting our Baton Rouge office.

Crohn's Disease Gastroenterology Associates Baton Rouge

Topics: Celiac Disease, Crohn's Disease

Celiac-Friendly Summer Grilling Tips for Baton Rouge (And a Recipe!)

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, May 12, 2017 @ 10:56 AM

Celiac-Friendly-Summer-Grilling-Tips-for-Baton-Rouge.jpegSummer is kicking off. The aroma of charcoal fills the air almost every evening, making your mouth water. You can’t wait for the season of backyard barbecues to begin in earnest. But if you have been diagnosed with gluten sensitivity or celiac sprue in Baton Rouge, you’re going to need to be a little more cautious around the buffet than you have been.

Check out these summer grilling tips for gluten intolerance in Baton Rouge and talk with the celiac experts at Gastroenterology Associates today!

Watch out for cross-contamination in the grill and prep area

As you would with any food allergy, it is vital that your food be cooked separately from any gluten-containing foods. If there isn’t room or time to cook your food separately or first, wrap your dishes in foil packets to ensure there isn’t cross-contamination on the grill. Also, don’t forget to use separate utensils when handling your gluten free foods.

Be wary of the marinade

Many marinades, dips, and sauces use gluten as a binder. If someone else is in charge of providing these items, don’t hesitate to ask to see the ingredient label or recipe. Still unsure? Don’t be afraid to provide your own. It’s better to practice caution than to contend with a celiac flare.

BYOB&B (Bring Your Own Booze & Buns) to a Baton Rouge BBQ

To avoid the impromptu and conversation-ruining “Does this beer/bun have gluten?” Google search, prepare ahead of time by bringing your own! Forgot to pack your own beer or bun? Enjoy your burger on a bed of lettuce or a portabella cap and wash it down with wine or hard cider to be safe.

Consult with your Baton Rouge gastroenterologist regularly

Most importantly, regular consultations with a celiac specialist can help prevent celiac flare-ups, manage symptoms, and give you the tools you need to live a healthy, gluten-free life. The digestive specialists at Gastroenterology Associates have the experience to help you manage your celiac lifestyle. Call today and set up a consultation. 

9 Signs of Celiac Disease



Gluten-Free Pizza for the Grill
Adapted from Minimalist Baker
Yield: 1 large pizza dough ball

2 cups gluten free flour blend
2/3 tsp salt
1/3 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp sugar, divided
2 tsp yeast
½ c + 1/3 c warm water, divided
2 tsp olive oil
Toppings of your choice


  1. Heat ceramic grill to at least 550 degrees F.
  2. Combine yeast and ½ c warm water ~ about 110 degrees F. Let set for 5 minutes to activate. Sprinkle 2 tsp sugar. Whisk until combined.
  3. In separate bowl, combine gluten free flour blend, salt, baking powder, and remaining 4 tsp sugar. Whisk until well combined.
  4. Make a well in the dry mixture and add yeast mixture. Add olive oil and 1/3 c warm mater before stirring. With a wooden spoon, stir together until well combined.
  5. On a floured surface, plop dough down. Using your hands, work from the middle and push to flatten the dough out to the edge, until the dough is less than a ¼ inch thick. Use brown rice flour if the dough gets too sticky.
  6. Lay the tongs, sauce, and toppings on a table within arm’s reach of your grill. Brush one side of dough with olive oil. Place the dough on the grill, oiled side-down. Let cook on an open grill for about 3 minutes—or 1-2 minutes with the lid on. When the dough is just set (before it gets crispy), flip the dough over, spread a thin layer of sauce and top lightly with cheese, etc.
  7. Put the lid on and cook your pizza for 3-5 minutes. If you smell burning dough, take the lid off and move the pizza to a cooler part of the grill.
  8. When the pizza is done, the edges will be crisp and well-done, and the cheese will be fully melted. Remove from the grill, let cool for 3 minutes, and enjoy!

Topics: Celiac Disease

Deductible Met? Schedule Your GI Screening Now.

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Wed, Nov 25, 2015 @ 1:59 PM

As the end of the year approaches, many people have met their insurance deductible, so that full insurance coverage kicks in for elective procedures. This makes it a great time to schedule medical care that is not immediately necessary. 

What Medical Procedures Should I Schedule After Hitting Deductible?

when to schedule a colonoscopy or endoscopySeeking medical care for conditions that are causing severe symptoms should not be delayed, nor should care for conditions that might worsen. For example, severe abdominal pain, left untreated, can result in a more serious problem in the not-too-distant future.

Conversely, wellness and screening procedures can safely be left for the end of the year.  Wellness visits are largely, and in most cases fully, covered by insurance.  However, diagnostic testing and treatment of conditions that are not necessarily considered emergent, like GERD, celiac's, or IBS, might be delayed for a period of time or as recommended by your physician.

Meeting deductible makes several of these diagnostic tests significantly more affordable for patients.  Examples of GI procedures that patients frequently schedule after meeting their deductible are colonoscopy and upper endoscopy.

Colonoscopy Screening Recommendations

who needs colonoscopy and whenColonoscopy is a vital screening tool for those with an increased risk of developing colon cancer and for individuals with problems impacting the colon. While a screening colonoscopy is not generally subject to the deductible, as it is a preventative procedure, diagnostic colonoscopy (used to diagnose a condition) may be subject to a deductible - even if the condition is discovered during a procedure that was originally used for screening. 

Gastroenterology Associates will review your screening/ wellness benefits and your copayments prior to the procedure, so there are no surprises for you after your procedure. We provide standard of care anesthesia services, even if some insurances do not always cover this, so there is no cost to the patient. Our patients benefit from effective and safe sedation.

Current recommendations for people over the age of 50 state that everyone receive a colonoscopy at least every 10 years. Also, higher risk groups should be screened earlier and more frequently to better prevent colon cancer. Speak with your doctor about earlier and more frequent screening if you: 

  • Are African-American
  • Have a family history of colon cancer or polyps
  • Have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Have a history of colon polyps or colon cancer

Make Your Appointment Now

Elective procedure appointments are in high demand near the end of the year and often shorter supply, because many people who have met their deductible are using this period to schedule their colonoscopy and other procedures. So, make your GI appointments sooner rather than later to secure a space in this year.

If you have met your deductible and are ready to get your colonoscopy or other elective procedure, we would be happy to schedule your appointment today. To schedule a consultation at the Gastroenterology Associates, please click below and enter your information or give us a call at (225) 927-1190.

Shedule Consultation

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: GERD, Celiac Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Colonoscopy, Endoscopic Procedures

Gluten Allergy: What to do next?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Sat, Oct 12, 2013 @ 9:22 AM

gluten freeCeliac disease is one of the most common gastrointestinal diseases, affecting as many as 1 in 100 people. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. When a person has celiac sprue, the immune system recognizes gluten as a threat and attacks it. As the food passes through your small intestine, the immune response damages the intestines themselves, inhibiting nutrient absorption and causing pain, diarrhea, and other symptoms. There is no cure for celiac sprue yet, but it can be effectively managed by completely eliminating all forms of gluten from your diet.

Research studies are ongoing in an attempt to find medications that can help with celiac sprue.  But overall, those who adopt a gluten-free diet invariably eat healthy and natural foods that improve their overall health as well. 

Knowing What Not to Eat

A diagnosis of celiac sprue or gluten allergy means an overhaul of your kitchen and diet, starting with no longer consuming any gluten-containing products. Wheat, rye, and barley play a major role in the Western diet, far beyond simple bread and pasta. Everything from beer to breakfast cereals to condiments may contain gluten. One of the first steps when you're diagnosed with celiac disease is to become adept at reading nutrition labels, keeping an eye out for words like:

  • Bulgur
  • Couscous
  • Chapatti flour
  • Semolina
  • Durum flour
  • Fu
  • Seitan
  • Brewer's yeast
  • Ale, jager, or beer
  • Anything with the word "wheat"
  • Anything with the word "malt"
  • Anything with the word "rye"
  • Anything with the word "barley"

Understanding Food Options

When many people are diagnosed with celiac sprue, they are concerned that their diet will be both very limited and very expensive. It's true that packaged breads, pastas, and other traditionally wheat-based foods can be expensive, due to the high amount of processing involved.

However, a gluten-free diet can still be varied, delicious, and affordable. People with celiac sprue are well-served by practicing a "shop the edges" technique, where the majority of food purchases are produce, meat, dairy, and bulk foods as nuts, rice, and quinoa. As you experiment with recipes and products, you'll also find flour, bread, and pasta substitutes you enjoy.

Understanding Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination is a major concern for people with celiac sprue. If a food is prepared on equipment that also is used to prepare products that contain gluten, some gluten may be present. If you still keep products with gluten at home, be sure to have separate preparation spaces and materials for each type of food.

When shopping, be wary of products that advertise as "gluten-free." With many people adapting the gluten-free diet for non-medical reasons, many major food companies are jumping on board. Companies not devoted to health or gluten free foods may contain cross-contamination, so do research before buying products.

Start Planning Meals

As you're transitioning your diet, you may find it difficult to create meals and choose snacks at a moment's notice like you used to. Try planning a week's worth of meals in advance. If you don't know where to start, try using or adapting a plan available online.

Planning Long-Term Health Care and Support

It's particularly important for patients with celiac to schedule regular check-ups with health care professionals. A nutritionist can help you plan and monitor how balanced your diet is as you transition to a gluten-free diet. Your physician will monitor you for signs of accidental gluten ingestion. Since people with celiac disease have a higher risk of developing certain conditions in the future, your doctor will be involved in monitoring those issues.

There is always an adjustment period after a diagnosis of celiac, because it is such a major change for most people. After the initial adjustment period, your symptoms from gluten ingestion will fade, you'll establish a healthy, enjoyable diet, and shopping and preparing gluten-free foods will become second nature.

A leading gastroenterologist on celiac disease is Sheila Crowe MD, who is currently director of Research in the UCSD Division of Gastroenterology, UC San Diego. She also manages the Adult Celiac Clinic at UCSD Perlman Ambulatory Outpatient Center.  She is a thought leader in the celiac world and has helped disseminate information on celiac disease to professionals and the public.  Her website can be viewed here.  It’s worth noting that Dr Crowe not only emphasizes the need to identify better the undiagnosed cases of celiac disease in the US, affecting approximately 1% of the entire population, bu that celiac disease can manifest into various conditions outside of the GI tract- skin rashes, osteoporosis, iron deficiency anemia, neurological problems, and obstetrical problems.

We have compiled a whitepaper on the 9 Signs of Celiac Disease that can be accessed by clicking the button below and completing the form.  We will be happy to send it right over to your inbox for learning more about Celiac Disease and for sharing with anyone who may also be recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease. 

9 Signs of Celiac Disease

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Celiac Disease

The Link Between Celiac Disease and Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Mon, Aug 05, 2013 @ 12:50 PM

shutterstock 127478621

At least 3 million Americans suffer from celiac disease.  However, until recent years, the exact prevalence of the disease was not always clear.  An estimated 1 in 133 people have celiac, yet only 1 in 4,700 will ever receive their accurate diagnosis.  Despite the dramatic growth in awareness, the symptoms that accompany celiac are still often mistaken for other ailments.  Therefore, the connection is never made, and an astounding 97% of celiac sufferers go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

Common misdiagnoses of celiac include irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis.  The symptoms of these disorders and celiac often align and may include abdominal pain and diarrhea.  However, there are many other, lesser known symptoms that are associated with celiac as well.  Among these symptoms is iron-deficiency anemia, which affects anywhere from 3%-6% of all celiac patients.

What Causes It?

Iron-deficiency anemia is typically a result of blood loss.  Trauma, heavy menstrual bleeding, ulcers, and even pregnancy are all well-known contributors.  However, for cases which cannot be directly attributed to these causes, celiac has an exceptionally high presence.  In fact, for those who have iron-deficiency anemia and no other celiac symptoms, up to 9% will have positive biopsy results for the disease.  So, what is responsible for this link between celiac and anemia?  The answer involves improper eating habits and ultimate damage to the small intestine.

When not properly treated with a gluten-free diet, celiac disease leads to damage of the nutrient-absorbing villi in the small intestine.  These finger-like protrusions are responsible for the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream, including iron.  When damaged by the intake of gluten, these villi are no longer able to absorb adequate amounts of iron, often resulting in anemia. 

Additionally, research has found that many of those with celiac develop a form of anemia known as “anemia of chronic disease.”  This type of anemia typically results after long bouts with inflammatory or infectious diseases.  In the case of celiac, the inflammation of the intestines impairs the immune system’s ability to adequately produce red blood cells.

What Can Be Done?

A patient suffering from iron-deficiency anemia without clear medical cause should be tested for celiac disease.  A simple blood test and a confirmatory test can easily diagnose the disease, and physicians can readily evaluate for the illness when there is a high index of suspicion with symptoms suggestive of celiac. If the test results are positive, immediate action should be taken by implementing a gluten-free diet.  However, it is important to know that implementing this diet prior to testing may result in a misdiagnosis, and it is important to wait until after confirmation of celiac to make the switch.  Over time, this diet will give the intestines the opportunity they need to heal and correct nutritional deficiencies.  Other steps that may be taken in conjunction with the gluten-free diet include taking iron supplements, eating foods rich in vitamin C, and eating foods known to be high in iron, including dark leafy vegetables, seafood, and legumes. 

The link between celiac and many of its symptoms is not always readily obvious.  For many patients, the path to an accurate diagnosis can take several years, and in the meantime, seemingly unrelated ailments such as iron-deficiency anemia simply don’t make sense.  Fortunately, as understanding of the disease grows, so does the rate of diagnosis.  Access to gluten-free foods and menus is more prevalent than ever before, making the need for a gluten-free lifestyle just a bit easier, and once properly diagnosed, the quality of life for many patients will increase drastically.

If you are concerned about the possibility of celiac disease, it may be time to see a specialist for a definitive diagnosis.  The gastroenterologists at Gastroenterology Associates have many years of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of celiac.  Our physicians see patients in three locations: Baton Rouge, Zachary, and Livingston, and all are board certified or board eligible.  Leave your health in the most capable hands possible, and contact our office to schedule your initial consultation by clicking here or calling (225) 927-1190.

9 Signs of Celiac Disease

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Celiac Disease