Celiac disease is a very common, yet very under diagnosed, incurable, hereditary, autoimmune disease.  Recent studies show that one  in 133 people , in the United States alone,  are affected by celiac disease.  The reason that it is so under diagnosed or misdiagnosed is because
the symptoms can be so varied.

With most diseases there are a set of symptoms that are basically typical to that particular disease.  However, celiac disease has a broad spectrum of symptoms, none of which are “typical.”  Symptoms are triggered by the ingestion of gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and sometimes oats.

Symptoms of CD can be any one of or several of the following:  fatigue, anemia, unexplained weight loss or weight gain, skin blisters or other skin disorders, mood swings, depression, anxiety,  miscarriages, osteoporosis, irritable bowel, headaches, a bloated feeling, flatulence (gas), profuse diarrhea, severe stomach aches, joint pain, and possibly others that just haven’t been linked to CD yet.  As your body becomes more intollerant to the gluten in your diet, you may experience numbness or tingling in your face and hands.

With that wide of a variety of  symptoms, you can see why self diagnosing is so difficult.  If you experience or are experiencing any of these symptoms, check with your doctor to see if you may have CD.  You will want to ask for the following blood tests:  IgA antihuman tissue transglutaminase (IgA TTG) and IGA endomysial antibody immunofluoresence (IgA EMA).  That is a mouthful,  I know, however, these tests are currently recommended by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as being the most accurate.

Then if your blood tests positive for gluten antibodies, you will need to have a biopsy of your small intestine, to check your intestinal villi.  This is done as an outpatient procedure.

After that you go on a Gluten Free diet and feel better.

Just keep in mind, if you suspect you might have Celiac Disease, and you want an actual medical diagnosis, DO NOT start a gluten free diet before your blood test and intestinal biopsy.  You need to be eating gluten for the blood tests and biopsy to be accurate.

Tomarrow I’ll talk about different symptoms for children with celiac disease.

Mary Blackburn

Living Gluten Free