May is National Celiac Awareness Month and I would like to begin the month off with the beginning. How do you know if you have Celiac Disease?
Celiac Disease and Gluten-Free Fast Facts:
- Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food.
- An estimated 1 in 133 Americans, or about 1% of the population, has celiac disease.
- Celiac disease can affect men and women across all ages and races.
- It is estimated that 83% of Americans who have celiac disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions.
- 6-10 years is the average time a person waits to be correctly diagnosed. (Source: Daniel Leffler, MD, MS, The Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center)
- 5-22% of celiac patients have an immediate family member (1st degree relative) who also has celiac.
There are over 300 known symptoms of Celiac Disease Below is a list of some of the symptoms common to Celiac Disease. If you have one or more of these you should seek the advice of a medical doctor to determine if you have Celiac Disease.
- abdominal pain and/or bloating
- chronic diarrhea
- pale, foul smelling stools
Adults are less likely to have digestive symptoms and are more likely to exhibit the following symptoms:
- weight loss
- behavior issues, depression, anxiety, ADHD
- dental enamel defects and tooth discoloration
- delayed growth/ puberty
- failure to thrive
- iron deficiency
- bone/joint pain, arthritis
- numbness/tingling in hands and feet
- frequent canker sores
- defeatism herptiformes
You can find a more comprehensive list at U Chicago Celiac Disease Symptoms List
If you have these symptoms, it is important to find out if they are cause by Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease is known as a companion disease, leading to other autoimmune diseases. You can find a list of symptoms and conditions possibly due to Celiac Disease here.
I urge anyone who thinks they may have Celiacs or gluten intolerance to be tested before going off of gluten. Going back on gluten after being gluten free can make you feel worse than if you wait to be tested and then go gluten free.