Gastroenterologist Explains Latest Advances in Treating Celiac Disease and Gluten Free Diet

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Dr. Jason R. Phillips lectures on Celiac Disease
Dr. Jason R. Phillips lectures on Celiac Disease

By Bill Keltner

Mega Doctor News

Renowned Gastroenterologist, Jason R. Phillips, M.D. conducted a seminar recently in which he outlined the latest advancements in treatment available to those suffering from a disease that is rampant not only in South Texas, but worldwide.  The disease is known as Celiac Disease.

The doctor is much sought-after because of his expertise in the latest treatment of this serious malady that millions have, and are not even aware.  The doctor made his remarks during a well-attended Doc Talk Lecture sponsored by the Harlingen Medical Center.

The doctor began by saying, “If one has Celiac Disease, he has gluten sensitivity and must learn to obey the rigors of a Gluten Free Diet.”  He then said to his attentive audience, “you have heard these medical words before, but I want to broaden your understanding of what you are facing with this life-altering ailment.”

“Forget what you’ve heard about the disease,” the Doctor said.  “Celiac Disease is rampant here in the Valley, and is a life-changing disease.  It is no respecter of race, age or sex.  Anyone can develop it anytime at any stage of his life, and I am one of them,”

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“Sensibility to gluten is the causative factor in the disease,” he said, adding, “and you may ask, what is gluten?” He continued. “Gluten is a protein that acts like glue to hold foods together,” he said. “It is in many foods, bread, pastas, and flour and is an additive in many foods we consume regularly.”  “Does that include flour tortillas?” somebody queried. “Yes,” he answered, “but, corn tortillas are o.k. if flour is not added.”  That got everybody’s attention. “We need gluten, but gluten sensitivity is the problem.” he stressed.

Phillips related that about 1% of the population in the United States has the disease—that adds up to about 1 in 133 people being affected, and 97% are unaware they have it. In the Valley, there are probably 13,000 people who are afflicted with Celiac Disease, and are not even aware of it.  “The evidence is that it may be increasing especially among young children,” he added.

We have identified that the culprit is gluten—more specifically, sensitivity to gluten.  So, how does it work and wreak such havoc?    It crosses the intestine and triggers an immune reaction.  Classic reactions include: abdominal pain and bloating, weight loss and chronic diarrhea.  The sufferer is unable to absorb iron or folate.  It progresses to an overall neuropathy and even ataxia (dizziness).

The disease is rampant especially among people with Type 1 Diabetes.  “Probably 8% of adults with diabetes have Celiac Disease, and don’t know it,” he further commented.  “There are several easily identifiable symptoms that many ignore — that is a mistake,” he said.  “The challenge to the medical field is to make people aware of this life-changing, but treatable disease.”

Doctor Phillips said that sufferers of the disease will be put on a very strict gluten-free diet for life.  “And there can be no cheating,” he said.  “Even a minute amount, like in a biscuit can trigger an emergency room event—even the little flour contained in the host eaten during a religious service is enough to trigger a flare-up.”

“The good news is that the disease can be diagnosed and treated with new techniques that can provide a long, satisfying life.” he said, adding, “if you or someone you know has the symptoms of Celiac Disease, urge them to check into the latest medical advances now available.”

The speaker, Jason R. Phillips, M.D., FASGE, is Board Certified in Gastroenterology. During and after his lecture, the doctor answered questions from his audience. He said anyone wanting more information about the disease, can call his office in Harlingen at 956-428-5700, or visit www.phillipsgastro.com.