Celiac Disease On The Rise

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Celiac disease is on the rise. It is estimated 1 out of 133 Americans have celiac disease and it affects more women than men. Only 3 percent of celiac cases are diagnosed correctly. The National Institutes of Health has begun a celiac disease awareness campaign. QUESTION: WHAT IS CELIAC DISEASE & HOW DO WE GET IT? Celiac disease is an auto-immune disorder that destroys the lining of the small intestine in reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. Celiac disease damages the villi or small finger-like projections that line the small intestine, making the intestine unable to function properly and preventing the absorption of vital nutrients. If left untreated, celiac disease can result in malnutrition and life-threatening diseases. The tendency to get celiac disease is inherited. It can be triggered by an environmental factor such as a severe physical trauma, emotional stress, viral infection, surgery or pregnancy. In the past it was thought that only children get Celiac disease, but anyone can be diagnosed, and in fact more adults are being diagnosed each year. QUESTION: HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE CELIAC DISEASE? The symptoms of celiac disease are vague and often overlooked. Some people don’t ever have symptoms. If you have been suffering from any of these symptoms for a long while without a diagnosis, you may have celiac disease and should be screened: CELIAC SYMPTOMS: Diarrhea Failure to grow Constipation Weakness Nausea Fatigue Abdominal pain and cramping Irritability Abdominal bloating Depression Weight loss or weight gain Joint pain QUESTION: WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH CELIAC DISEASE? If left untreated you can do further damage to your intestine resulting in any of the following: CELIAC DISEASE CAUSES: Diabetes Chronic Fatigue Anemia Depression Osteoporosis Memory/Concentration problems Gastrointestinal Cancer Behavioral Changes Irritable Bowel Syndrome Night Blindness Miscarriage Delayed Puberty Clotting Disorders Mouth Ulcers Atopic Dermatitis Tooth Enamel Defects Several auto-immune diseases are linked with celiac including thyroid disease, Type I diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. If you have a family history of these or a relative with celiac disease, you should definitely be screened. Celiac disease has been reported for centuries, but treatment was not established until the early 1950s, when gluten was identified as the cause. Since gluten damages the villi, the only treatment is to remove all gluten from the diet. The diet must be VERY STRICT. Even a crumb of gluten can cause health problems. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut and oats that are contaminated, bread, rolls crackers, bakery, cookies, bagels, pretzels, cereal made with these grains, vinegar, beer, gravies, sauces. Click on the links under related content for more information on celiac disease.