What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease, sometimes called celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disease that occurs in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.
Who suffers from Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is hereditary, meaning that it runs in families. People with a first-degree relative with Celiac disease (parent, child, sibling) have a 1 in 10 risk of developing Celiac disease.
Celiac disease can develop at any age after people start eating foods or medicines that contain gluten. Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to additional serious health problems.
When my sister was in high school in the 1990s, she was barely able to attend. She was chronically tired and suspected of a variety of ailments. Over the years, she drank tons of coffee to feel normal, had a really poor quality of life, went to the doctors often, suffered from digestive issues, and had frequent rashes. About 25 years out of HS and after many doctor visits and huge healthcare expenses, she got a rash on her face. I share that vanity saved her, as she did not let it go. She finally came across a doctor that suggested that she stop eating wheat. She obliged and quickly the rash dissipated and she began feeling better. After about a month of dramatic improvement, the doctor said to be diagnosed with celiac she’d have to go back on wheat to which she refused and to this day has a dramatically improved quality of life. I recall asking myself, how did this get through the medical system. It’s a correlation of consuming wheat and symptoms.
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