Do You Have Celiac without Knowing It?


Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder affecting around 3,000,000 Americans, but it can be a difficult illness to pin down without proper testing, points out Brian Ciampra of Capital Digestive Care, Silver Spring, Md. The latest studies estimate that 83% of people with celiac disease are going undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

"In general, celiac disease causes damage in the small intestine when gluten--a protein found in wheat, rye, oats, and barley--is consumed. The most-common symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, and lactose intolerance, but many other patients experience more-vague symptoms, such as vitamin and nutrient deficiencies, anemia, and weight loss. Complicating matters is that these symptoms mirror several other illnesses."

Very often patients who eventually are found to have celiac disease initially are mislabeled with irritable bowel syndrome or have not had proper testing when their symptoms were discussed with a health-care practitioner. What is more, once their symptoms become chronic, some patients tend to stop seeking care and just live with the pain and discomfort...

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