What is Celiac Disease?
It is a serious genetic autoimmune disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. An estimated 1 in 133 Americans, or about 1% of the population, has celiac disease. It can affect men and women of all ages and races. It is estimated that 83% of Americans who have celiac disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can range and vary for each individual. Common symptoms include: gastrointestinal issues, fatigue, rash, numb hands and feet, discolored teeth, joint pain, irritability, weight loss, delayed growth, missed menstrual periods, regular fractures, iron deficiency, depression, diabetes, and/or the presence of other autoimmune diseases.
How do I get a proper diagnosis?
It is estimated that the average time a person waits to be correctly diagnosed is 6-10 years. Within this time, it is common to be diagnosed with other conditions such as: irritable bowel syndrome/disease, intestinal infections, lactose intolerance, and depression. It is important to not change to a gluten-free diet before being for celiac disease. If the blood tests and symptoms indicate celiac disease, a physician will likely suggest a biopsy of the lining of the small intestine to confirm the diagnosis.
Currently, recommended tests include:
*If IgA is deficient, it is recommended that the IgG/IgA-DGP also be ordered. At the discretion of the doctor, IgG-AGA can also be ordered.
What is the treatment?
There are no pharmaceutical treatments for celiac disease. A 100% gluten-free diet is the only existing treatment for celiac disease today.
Is it hard to live gluten-free?
After diagnosis it is important to become very well educated on how to live gluten free. Seeking a Registered Dietitian who specializes in celiac disease counseling is recommended. A Dietitian can help build a balanced diet despite gluten elimination and ensure no deficiencies are created. The good news is that the gluten free market is growing in popularity. Gluten free sales reached more than $2.6 billion by the end of 2010 and are now expected to exceed more than $5 billion by 2015. There are more options than ever before and many restaurants cater to the gluten free market. Good news is that it is becoming much easier than ever before to live gluten free.
Keep in mind that a lack of symptoms is not a reliable indicator of intestinal recuperation.
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