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Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease is a genetic disorder that affects between 1 in 150 to 1 in 250 Americans. It is also known as gluten intolerance. Celiac disease symptoms may range from classic features, like diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition, to more latent symptoms like isolated nutritional deficiencies yet no gastrointestinal symptoms.

There is an easy home breath test for Lactose Intolerance

The disease affects more people of European descent, and occurs more rarely in black or Asian populations. Damage occurs to the villi (shortening and villous flattening) in the lamina propria and crypt regions of the intestines when specific food-grain antigens are eaten (toxic amino acid sequences) which are found in wheat, rye, and barley. Oats have traditionally been considered to be toxic to celiacs as well, however, recent scientific studies have shown otherwise. This research is ongoing and it may be too early to draw solid conclusions.

Celiac Disease can be difficult to diagnose because of the broad range of symptoms it presents, The symptoms range from "mild weakness, bone pain, and aphthous stomatitis to chronic diarrhea, abdominal bloating, with progressive weight loss." If a person with the disorder continues to eat gluten, studies show that it will increase their chances of gastrointestinal cancer by a factor of 40 to 100 times that of the normal population. It is known that gastrointestinal carcinoma or lymphoma develops in up to 15% of patients with untreated or refractory celiac disease.

It is therefore very important that the disease is properly diagnosed quickly so it can be treated as soon as possible. Based on the figures mentioned above, we can extrapolate the total possible number of people in the United States with this disorder from the total population (283,425,607). If we do so we end up with somewhere between 1,889,504 and 1,113,702 people with celiac disease! An average of these two numbers leaves us with approximately 1,464,239 people in the United States who have the disease in its classic or latent form.

Testing may also be done screening the patient's blood for antigliadin (AGA) and endomysium antibodies (EmA), or doing a biopsy on the areas of the intestines mentioned above, which is the still the best way to diagnose the disease.

Acceptable treatment for Celiac Disease is strict adherence to a 100% gluten-free diet for life. Maintaining a gluten-free diet can prevent almost all complications associated with the disease. A gluten-free diet means avoiding all products that contain wheat, rye and barley, and their derivatives. Many hidden sources of gluten are found in the ingredients of processed foods.

See Article by Jule Klotter on Celiac Disease

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