Celiac disease affects over 3 million individuals. Often misdiagnosed as other digestive problems, Celiac disease is a genetic ailment that was previously believed to only affect those of European descent. However, recent studies have shown that not only do African-Americans suffer from Celiac disease, but they are often under-diagnosed.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac is an autoimmune genetic disease that results from being allergic to the protein gluten found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. When an individual with Celiac disease eats anything with gluten, their body responds by destroying villi. Villi are located in the small intestine and are integral to the absorption of nutrients from food. Over time, the combination of the body’s inability to take in nutrients and the destruction of villi can result in a number of long-term health issues including type-1 diabetes, autoimmune liver disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Symptoms of Celiac Disease
The symptoms of Celiac disease will vary from person to person depending on the length of time they’ve suffered from the disease, the extent of the damage done, age, and how much gluten an individual has ingested. Some of the common symptoms include persistent abdominal bloating and pain, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, unexplained weight loss, anemia, persistent fatigue, bone joint pain, arthritis, osteoporosis, depression, anxiety, numbness in the extremities, and even seizures.
Treatment and Information
What makes Celiac disease so problematic is that it can be dormant for years before symptoms are recognized. In addition, since the symptoms aren’t very distinctive, it is commonly mistaken for chronic fatigue syndrome, anemia, irritable bowel syndrome, and more. The only way to treat celiac disease is to adopt a gluten-free diet. Although more and more food manufacturers are offering gluten free options, removing all gluten from your diet can be a bit challenging. Luckily, there are a wealth of books and websites that can assist in making the switch. Take the time to get tested for Celiac disease; if you are suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned above, it will be time well spent.