Celiac disease affects about 10% of Americans. It can also be called gluten intolerance, gluten enteropathy or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, non-tropical sprue, celiac sprue and endemic sprue. Celiac disease symptoms can be as simple as abdominal pain or a dreadful disease that can lead to cancer. Adults and children suffer alike. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of these have been properly tested and diagnosed, leaving millions suffering silently. The importance of early diagnosis and treatment cannot be overstated.
Multiple tests may be required to diagnose a celiac sufferer. Symptoms may be confused with other serious illnesses and the number of symptoms present will determine what type of medical tests the patient should submit to and which tests to take first. Even with extensive patient assessments of physical and psychological factors, a patient may be misdiagnosed.
A gluten-free diet is the only known means of treating Celiac disease. It means abstaining from foods that contain gluten protein. The secret to a pain-free life may be as easy as good food choices. There may be no need for surgeries or a lifetime of pills. Eating a gluten-free diet must be an everyday habit. A gluten-free lifestyle also requires making good food choices at the supermarket or when traveling. It’s a permanent lifestyle change that will bring great relief to those who suffer from Celiac disease.
People with celiac disease who do not adhere to a gluten-free diet show an increased risk factor of 40 to 100 times over the general population to develop gastrointestinal cancer.
Each year new doctors join the drive to cure celiac disease. Due to this, the typical tests on blood, genes and the digestive system now make it easier for the disease to be diagnosed and treated. As a celiac patient becomes symptom free, he may only need to see a specialist for small amounts of maintenance testing.
Various experts such as gastroenterologists, nurse practitioners, general physicians and dieticians are the experts a potential celiac should consult. Additionally, there are many organizations and committees to help celiac patients.
If you suffer from gluten intolerance, please know that you are not alone. There are many others who suffer with you, and many who suffer while not even knowing why. But have hope! By arming yourself with knowledge about Celiac disease and by learning how to maintain a gluten-free diet, you can still live a happy (and comfortable) life.