“What on Earth is a Celiac?”
Jane Doe (we use the name to protect the identity of this person) was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in the spring of 2003, and her somewhat confused physician sent Jane Doe to the nearest health food market for answers. Celiac Disease, also known as Celiac Sprue, is a genetically-linked autoimmune disease in which the absorbing surface of the small intestine is damaged by gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes even oats. But as recently as two years ago, this illness was considered very rare in this country, leaving many Celiacs misdiagnosed, under-diagnosed, or simply overlooked altogether.
Approximately 1 in 4700 people in the USA are diagnosed Celiacs. But recent medical research indicates that this figure is extraordinarily inaccurate. Suddenly, the long-accepted thinking that Celiac Disease was rare has literally exploded off of the medical horizon. It is now known that 1 in 133 folks in this country (or more) are probably Celiacs…again going under-diagnosed…and suffering needlessly for many years.
In Celiac Disease, nutrients pass through the damaged small intestine, without being absorbed, often creating a host of sometimes devastating health problems. Medical conditions and diseases that have been associated with Celiac Disease are iron deficiency anemia, osteoporosis, gum problems, skin problems, Multiple Sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy, and infertility.
Celiac Disease is frequently misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, proctitis) pancreatitis, and even gall bladder disease, to name but a few. There are literally millions of Celiacs running around in this country….who don’t even know they are Celiacs. And the really significant additional concern is that all these folks are simultaneously running the risk of developing a secondary autoimmune disease. This, due to the fact that many Celiacs go misdiagnosed or under-diagnosed an average of eleven years…or even longer. In Jane Doe’s case, it was 52 years.
Jane Doe’s desire is that people will be able to gain answers through the information she has shared here. Just like her, we wish to share this information to educate those who may have suffered or are still suffering from this often misdiagnosed disease for decades.