Skip to main content

Celiac Disease Specialist

John M Rivas, M.D. -  - Gastroenterology and Endoscopy

Rivas Digestive Center

John M Rivas, M.D.

Gastroenterology and Endoscopy & Transplant Hepatology located in Hollywood, FL

Celiac disease affects about 1% of the general population, but if you have a family history of the condition, your risk is 10 times higher. John Rivas, MD, at Rivas Digestive Center in Hollywood, Florida, provides ongoing support and medical care for this disease, helping patients from adolescence through adulthood control celiac disease in the long run. If you suffer from persistent digestive symptoms, call the office or use the online booking feature to schedule an appointment today.

Celiac Disease Q&A

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which your immune system attacks the small intestine. This immune attack begins when you consume gluten, a protein naturally found in wheat, barley, and rye.

Every time gluten enters your digestive tract, your immune system launches an attack that damages small structures lining the small intestine called villi. If you keep consuming gluten, two problems develop:

Nutritional deficiency

Villi are responsible for absorbing nutrients. As they become damaged and inflamed, they can’t take in the nutrients your body needs. At the time of their diagnosis, nearly 60% of patients have low levels of zinc. Many also have a deficiency in iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12, folate, and copper. 

Body-wide inflammation

Ongoing gluten consumption causes extensive damage to the protective gastrointestinal barrier. Once this barrier is breached, inflammation and toxic substances can enter your bloodstream and spread through your body.

What symptoms develop due to celiac disease?

The severity of your symptoms depends on the amount of gluten you consume and the extent of your intestinal damage. The primary symptoms that occur in your digestive tract include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating and gas
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

The medical experts estimate that half of all patients with celiac disease also experience body-wide symptoms. The exact symptoms you experience depend on which part of your body is affected. However, a few of the most common problems include:


  • Fatigue
  • Skin rash
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Headaches
  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint pain
  • Tingling in your extremities

Some of these symptoms, such as mouth ulcers and a skin rash, are the result of nutrient deficiencies.

How is celiac disease diagnosed?

Dr. Rivas performs a blood test to determine if you have antibodies caused by celiac disease. However, the test isn’t accurate if you already follow a gluten-free diet.

A minimally invasive procedure called an endoscopy is the best way to diagnose celiac disease. During an endoscopy, Dr. Rivas can examine your small intestine, evaluate inflammation, and take a tissue sample to determine the extent of the damage.

How is celiac disease treated?

The only treatment currently available for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. If you avoid all gluten, your small intestine gradually heals. Consuming only a tiny amount of gluten can trigger the immune reaction.

In addition to helping you with your gluten-free diet, Dr. Rivas may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and other treatments as needed to deal with body-wide problems.

Don’t wait to get help for celiac disease. Call Rivas Digestive Center or book an appointment online.