Celiac.com 06/15/2008 - Many people with celiac disease have stories to tell about the about how difficult it can be to get a getting a proper diagnosis. Celiac disease can mimic so many other conditions. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of those conditions. The symptoms for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and for celiac disease are often similar as a result the diagnosis of celiac disease can be delayed or missed and misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome.
In an effort to reduce the misdiagnosis of celiac disease as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has drawn up new guidelines covering the diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The guidelines call for all diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome to be preceded by a screen for celiac disease. Keeping this in mind, anyone suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and who has not been tested for celiac disease, might want to take the initiative and check with their doctor to see if further testing might be in order.
Studies show that a minimum of 1 out of every 100 people in Britain suffers from celiac disease, but that only 1 out of 8 is properly diagnosed. More worrisome still is the fact that new research shows that it takes an incredible 13 years on average before the diagnosis are made. That means 13 years of unnecessary pain and discomfort, to say nothing of potential systemic damage for those awaiting a proper diagnosis of celiac disease, including osteoporosis, bowel cancer and increased risk of other autoimmune diseases.
Since similar numbers likely prevail in America, it's good to keep an eye on clinical changes like the one recently made in Britain. Again, for people diagnosed with IBS, but who have not been evaluated for celiac disease, it might be good to consider getting checked for celiac disease, even if these changes are not officially implemented in America anytime soon. Changes in diagnostic and treatment practices that benefit people with celiac disease are long overdue and highly welcomed by the celiac community.
As our abilities to evaluate diagnostic and treatment practices continue to expand, look for important changes in the clinical approach to celiac disease, greater awareness among the general population, and improvements in the quality of life among celiacs.
1. The Economic Burden of Coeliac Disease in the UK research paper
2. Recent advances in Coeliac Disease by D.A. van Heel and J. West, published in Gut 2006 55, pp 1037-1046
3. Coeliac Society of the UK