Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the digestive process of the small intestine. It affects about one percent of the population of the United States, occurring more often in women than in men. People with celiac disease have sensitivity to gluten, a type of protein found in grains such as rye and barley. Ingestion of gluten triggers an abnormal immune system response, which damages the small intestines and prevents absorption of necessary nutrients such as iron, folic acid, vitamin D and calcium.
The media does extensive coverage on celiac disease, especially in May as it is Celiac Disease Awareness Month. So much so that it has propelled the gluten-free foods trend, which somewhat deviated the focus from the disease itself. In fact, over a quarter of adults in the United States find gluten-free living appealing. The truth is, a large majority of that number do not require a gluten-free diet and should not be in it.
Since it is Celiac Disease Awareness Month, FoodFacts.com aids the medical community and other proponents in educating people with these quick facts about the disease.
Celiac disease is not simply a food allergy and/or intolerance that can be countered by an antihistamine. It is a serious, lifelong, genetically-determined disease. If a blood relative is diagnosed with celiac disease, get yourself screened immediately.
Celiac disease is considered an invisible illness because it is hard to diagnose. The average time for celiac to be diagnosed correctly is between 6 and 10 years. In many cases, celiac does not even manifest itself through the most common symptoms, leaving the sufferer unaware that the illness is already destroying the small intestine.
Some of the most common symptoms of celiac disease are, but not limited to:
- Changes in bowel movements
- Gas and bloating
- Weakness and fatigue
- Peculiar mental, emotional and physical behavior
Other health problems
Because celiac disease is difficult to diagnose, it is often untreated. When left untreated, the disease may lead to a variety of other medical maladies such as infertility, miscarriage, osteoporosis, anemia and lymphoma.
Higher risk of pneumonia
As reported in a recent article, researchers found that people with celiac disease are more susceptible to pneumonia if they have never received the pneumococcal vaccine. Doctors, therefore, urge diagnosed celiac patients to get the vaccine.
If you think you have celiac disease, call your doctor immediately and discuss a health management plan before switching to a gluten-free diet.
The all my foodfacts app can help you manage celiac disease. By selecting the types of food that you want to avoid, all my foodfacts will show you which products contain them. In this case, when you add “gluten” to your avoid list and run a search on grains, the app includes the products that contain grains which celiac patients are sensitive to in the results and indicates that you should avoid them.