Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that damages the lining of your small intestine, interferes with the absorption of vital nutrients, and can cause serious complications. In children, it may manifest as a bloated stomach, poor appetite, chronic diarrhea, muscle wasting, and a failure to thrive. In adults, it may cause weight loss, fatigue, headaches, anemia, osteoporosis, joint pains, and acid reflux.
Due to the generalized nature of the symptoms, it is often difficult to diagnose. It has been estimated that about 2.5 million Americans are suffering with symptoms of this disease without even being aware that they have it!
National Celiac Awareness Day is celebrated on September 13th to spread awareness about celiac disease. It is the birthday of Dr. Samuel Gee, the pioneering doctor who identified a link between diet and celiac disease. Several activities and outreach programs are conducted on this day to educate people on the importance of identifying and managing celiac disease.
To diagnose celiac disease, your doctor may order blood tests to look for antibodies formed in response to gluten in your food and to identify a genetic predisposition to the disease. If these tests are positive, you may have to undergo an endoscopy and a biopsy of your small intestine, which is the gold standard for diagnosing celiac disease.
There is no pharmacological cure for this condition. A 100% gluten-free diet is the only treatment available for celiac disease. Adopting a gluten-free lifestyle can be difficult, so make sure your diagnosis is confirmed by your doctor or a gastroenterologist. Once confirmed, you must learn as much as you can about what foods you can eat, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully, and enlist the help of friends and family to support your efforts in dealing with the disease. Perhaps you could organize a gluten-free party on September 13th to celebrate National Celiac Awareness Day.