Do You Have This Food Sensitivity That is Commonly Missed or Misdiagnosed?
November 18, 2006
The National Institutes of Health recently launched a Celiac Disease Awareness Campaign to inform both physicians and the public about the prevalence of the disease, which may be far more widespread than most people know.
Those with celiac disease cannot digest gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.
When people with celiac disease eat gluten, it triggers an autoimmune response, provoking the body to attack itself and destroying healthy tissues, especially the villi in the small intestine.
This can cause problems such as chronic diarrhea, gas, bloating, reflux and constipation. Even a small amount of gluten can trigger a response.
But celiac disease can also manifest in ways having nothing to do with the digestive system, leading many doctors to misdiagnose it or mistreat it. One study has shown that it takes an average of 11 years for patients to receive a correct diagnosis. Under a decade ago, it was believed that celiac disease affected only one out of every 10,000 Americans. But a 2004 report based on research by celiac experts estimates that as many as one in every 133 Americans have the disease. That comes to roughly 2 million people.