Celiac disease strikes three million people in the U.S. -- more than multiple sclerosis or crohn's disease -- yet 97 percent are undiagnosed due to poor awareness. Lack of treatment can result in type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, lupus, liver disease, infertility, and cancer.
Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic is the first and only authoritative guide to this serious autoimmune disease. As co-author Dr. Peter Green explains "celiac disease has been dubbed the 'great pretender.' Its symptoms can easily masquerade as a number of other illnesses...and it is those conditions that are often diagnosed instead of celiac disease. The one thing most patients have in common is a long road to diagnosis." While celiac disease is well known in Europe and other areas, in the United States it has long been ignored by many in the medical profession -- prompting The Wall Street Journal to recently note that "the story of celiac disease shows how blind spots can develop in the U.S. medical system" (12/9/05).
Three million Americans have celiac disease, but most don't know they are carrying this genetic autoimmune condition that if left untreated, can lead to serious health consequences including type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, lupus, liver disease, infertility and cancer. Despite these risks, only 3 percent of people with the disease are being treated and most of those suffer an average of 11 years before the condition is correctly diagnosed. Why? Despite its prevalence, physicians and the general public are relatively unaware of celiac disease. The variety of symptoms, combined with lack of awareness, often lead to misdiagnosis or no diagnosis, with serious health consequences for millions.
Celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the small intestine causing malabsorption -- regardless of how much food they may eat.
Celiac disease is hereditary, and can develop at any age. The challenge in diagnosing celiac disease is that it affects each person differently and symptoms can be similar to those of other diseases. Symptoms and conditions may include recurrent abdominal bloating and pain, chronic diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, bone or joint pain, fatigue, depression or irritability, seizures, osteoporosis, tingling or numbness in the hands or legs, anemia, or an itchy blistery skin rash called dermatitis herpertiformis. In children it can present itself as failure to thrive, tooth discoloration or loss of enamel, short stature, or delayed growth or development.
You may be thinking "but I've never even heard of celiac disease." That's the reaction most Americans have, including those of us who have it, and many in the medical community. Because celiac disease is "the disease of a thousand disguises," sufferers typically see a succession of physicians and specialists before discovering their real problem. And that's tragic, because when it remains untreated, its symptoms can worsen and new ones can develop. Yet this disease is extremely treatable. By eliminating gluten from their diet, people with celiac disease can become free of symptoms.
Category: Celiac Disease Books and gluten free books.
Prevalence is Underestimated - Comparison of the prevalence of celiac disease and other well- known conditions (Source: National Institutes of Health):
- Celiac Disease affects 3 million Americans
- Epilepsy affects 2.8 million Americans
- Ulcerative Colitis affects 500,000 Americans
- Crohn's Disease affects 500,000 Americans
- Multiple Sclerosis affects 333,000 Americans
- Cystic Fibrosis affects 30,000 Americans