May 22 2017

Educate Yourself About Celiac Disease for Celiac Awareness Month

Published by at 11:14 pm under Celiac,Lifestyle


May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month. Photo via Visual Hunt

When you tell new acquaintances that you are gluten-free, you might receive an eye roll for your trouble. It’s true that the gluten-free diet has become a hot trend over the past few years, adopted by athletes and actors alike for a variety of reasons. Some simply believe that a gluten-free diet can lead to a healthier lifestyle. For a specific group of people, however, eating gluten-free can literally mean the difference between life and death. Welcome to celiac disease, where ingesting even a small amount of gluten (like crumbs left on an unwashed piece of silverware) can cause terrible and long lasting symptoms.

According to the Celiac Disease Center at the University of Chicago Medicine, a little less than 1% of people suffer from celiac disease. This number may be artificially low, because the symptoms are often hard to classify and many celiac sufferers have never been diagnosed. May is Celiac Awareness Month, so if you or someone you know has celiac disease, now is the time to spread the word about this disease. Here’s some great information that you can use.

What Is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. When a person with celiac consumes gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and many manufactured foods), the immune system attacks the digestive tract, damaging villi, which line the small intestine and absorb nutrients. This makes it more difficult for the body to properly get nutrients. As a result, someone who does not address their celiac disease can suffer from nutritional deficiencies, anemia, osteoporosis, infertility, intestinal cancers, and more!

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

One of the reasons that celiac disease is so hard to diagnose is that the symptoms will vary dramatically from person to person and tend to be different between adults and children. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, celiac disease can present with over 200 different symptoms. Some of the most common include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Anemia
  • Bone and join pain
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms regularly, especially after eating meals that include bread, wheat, grains, or manufactured foods, make an appointment with your doctor and ask to be tested for celiac disease.

What Can You Do During Celiac Disease Awareness Month?

The best thing you can do during the remainder of the month of May is to raise awareness about celiac disease. If you or someone you know has the disease, share your story. Post it on social media. You may be surprised to find out how many of your friends and connections never knew you had the disease. When they learn more about the disease, they are likely to be more considerate when you ask for gluten-free food options.

If you want to do something even bigger, consider donating to a celiac-related charity, like the Celiac Disease Foundation or the Gluten Intolerance Group. According to the foundation, 86 cents of every dollar donated goes to programs that support diagnosis, treatment, and research into a cure for celiac.

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