May is National Celiac Awareness Month

By BE Gluten Free | GF Information

May 06

Celiac-Awareness-Ribbon Grass is getting greener, leaves are popping out everywhere and soon flowers will be in bloom.  Ah, Springtime. Coinciding with celebrating spring is, Celiac Awareness month.    I would like to take a little time and help me readers become aware of Celiac disease.  Celiac disease is genetic autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food.  It also produces immune reactions through out the body which could lead to infertility, neurological disorders, joint pain, some cancers, and other autoimmune diseases.  Celiac Disease effects 1 in 33 Americans,  however it is estimated that 83%  who have Celiac Disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.  Diagnosing Celiac Disease can be difficult.  On average it takes 6-10 years to be accurately diagnosed (Source: Daniel Leffler, MD, MS, The Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center).  Here are some of the symptoms of Celiac Disease in children:

  • abdominal bloating and pain
  • chronic diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • constipation
  • pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • irritability and behavioral issues
  • dental enamel defects of the permanent teeth
  • delayed growth and puberty
  • short stature
  • failure to thrive
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

 

Adults are less likely to have digestive symptoms, with only one-third experiencing diarrhea.  Adults are more likely to have:

  • unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
  • fatigue
  • bone or joint pain
  • arthritis
  • bone loss or osteoporosis
  • depression or anxiety
  • tingling numbness in the hands and feet
  • seizures or migraines
  • missed menstrual periods
  • infertility or recurrent miscarriage
  • canker sores inside the mouth
  • an itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis

While the symptoms of celiac vary, suffering from any of these symptoms — especially over time — may indicate that you should ask your doctor for a celiac blood test.

I hope this information help others to become more aware of symptoms that may lead them to a quicker diagnosis and faster to their healing.  There is no cure for Celiac Disease, but it can be managed with a strict gluten free diet.

Resources:

http://celiac.org/celiac-disease/symptoms/

http://www.celiaccentral.org/celiac-disease/facts-and-figures/

About the Author

Classically trained in Biology and Genetics at the University of Minnesota St. Paul Biological Sciences campus. Gluten free for more than 5 years.