May is National Celiac Disease Awareness Month

May 1, 2012 at 9:33 pm Leave a comment

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune condition that doesn’t discriminate, it can present itself at any age to anyone. When people with Celiac Disease eat foods or use products that contain gluten, a protein found in all forms of wheat (durum, semolina, kamut, spelt, farro), rye and barley, the body triggers a reaction that causes damage to the small intestine.

Over time, the damage to the intestine prevents food from being absorbed, leading to nutrition deficiencies and their associated health problems. Untreated celiac disease can also lead to other ailments.

Celiac Disease is found in 1 out of every 133 Americans. The numbers worldwide are unconfirmed but are projected to be close to this estimate.

Of those who have it, only 3% are diagnosed. The other 97% are undiagnosed, which means they are not getting the treatment they need.

The only treatment for celiac disease is a strict gluten-free diet. It can be difficult to maintain a gluten-free diet, as gluten is prevalent in our food supply, cross contamination in restaurants and at home is a common occurrence, and the FDA has not established a standard for gluten-free labeling.

On average, it takes about 10 years for someone with Celiac Disease to be properly diagnosed. This is so because symptoms are highly varied amongst individuals and they cross over with other diseases.

Many of these symptoms are dismissed as gas, Chronic diarrhea or constipation (or both) and even IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).

The prevalence of Celiac Disease has increased four-fold in the past 50 years and this is not solely a result of increased awareness. Research shows more and more people are developing the disease.

Untreated CD can lead to:

  • Nutrition deficiencies and their associated conditions (i.e. anemia and osteoporosis)
  • Neurological disorders
  • Liver and thyroid conditions
  • Infertility (in both men and women)
  • Depression
  • Intestinal lymphomas and other GI cancers
  • Other autoimmune diseases (i.e. lupus and rheumatoid arthritis)

Know the signs, symptoms and long-term effects of Celiac Disease so that you can recognize it in someone you know and advise them to see a doctor.

Spread the word…share the statistics, signs and symptoms on your Facebook page, via Twitter messages, in a mass email to friends and family or while talking to colleagues at work. Great information can be found through the following education and advocacy groups as well as Gluten Free With Kimberly.

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Gluten-Free Kids: How to talk to your friends about Celiac McHenry Celiac Support Group

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