Flip open the menu at almost any restaurant these days, and you’ll see a “gluten-free” section. While the gluten-free fad has brought some awareness to celiac disease, many people still don’t understand what the condition entails (or just how distressing it can be).
Celiac disease is a “serious, genetic autoimmune disorder triggered by consuming a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, and rye,” according to Beyond Celiac. When a person with celiac eats food containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the villi in the small intestine. This makes absorption of nutrients nearly impossible.
Only one percent of the U.S. population has celiac disease, but an astounding 83 percent of the 3,000,000 Americans with the condition remains undiagnosed or misdiagnosed due to such a wide variety of symptoms.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common signs of celiac disease are diarrhea, fatigue, and weight loss. Adults may also experience bloating and gas, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, and vomiting.
But, more than half of adults with the condition experience symptoms that have nothing to do with the digestive system, making celiac disease very difficult to diagnose. Celiacs often suffer for six to 10 years before receiving an accurate diagnosis!
You should be on the lookout for these 12 lesser-known celiac disease symptoms:
1.Anxiety or depression
6.Itchy rash (known as dermatitis herpetiformis)
8.Damage to dental enamel
10.Tingling or numbness
11.Bones that fracture easily
12.Delayed growth in children
If your doctor suspect celiac disease, they will start by taking a simple antibody blood test to measure your body’s response to gluten. If it comes back positive, the doctor will perform an endoscopy and small intestinal biopsy for confirmation. It’s important that if you are being tested for celiac disease, you should remain on a normal, gluten-containing diet prior to testing. Going gluten-free before testing can prevent a proper diagnosis.
As of right now, the only treatment for celiac disease is a strict, lifelong, gluten-free diet. If left untreated, celiac disease can lead to a slew of other medical issues, such as malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility and miscarriage, neurological problems, and cancer.
Consult a doctor if you have any symptoms that last longer than two weeks.
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of celiac disease, make an appointment with the experts at Gastroenterology & Associates of Pensacola. Call 850-474-8988 or visit them online at www.endo-world.com.