CELIAC DISEASE FACTS
WHAT IS CELIAC DISEASE?
Celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. It is estimated that up to 83% of Americans–3 million people across all races, ages, genders and ethnicities–who have celiac disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions. 5-22% of people with celiac disease have an immediate family member similarly inflicted. The average person waits 6-10 years to be correctly diagnosed.
Celiac disease can lead to a number of other disorders including infertility, reduced bone density, neurological disorders, some cancers, and other autoimmune diseases. There are no pharmaceutical treatments or cures for Celiac disease; a 100% gluten-free diet is the only existing treatment for Celiac disease today.
Over a four-year period, people with undiagnosed celiac disease incur an average of $3,964 in additional medical costs than healthy individuals.
It is believed that Celiac disease first began in humans at the advent of the first agricultural revolution. Celiac disease is triggered by consuming the gluten protein, which is found in wheat, barley and rye. When a person with celiac disease eats gluten, the immune system sees it as a threat and begins to attack it. The villi of the intestines, while trying to digest the gluten along with other food, get damaged in the process. Damaged villi make it nearly impossible for the body to absorb nutrients, leading to malnourishment. If someone with Celiac disease continues to eat gluten, they can experience a host of other problems including osteoporosis, infertility, and the onset of other autoimmune diseases, like diabetes type 1, thyroid disease, and Sjögren’s.
Celiac Disease Symptoms
Symptoms of celiac disease include:
- Bloating or gas
- Delayed growth in children
- Discolored teeth
- Headaches or migraines
- Itchy skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)
- Joint pain
- Liver disease
- Pale mouth sores
- Poor weight gain
- Thin bones