Over the last few years, the “gluten free diet” has become a widely accepted fad among celebrities and dieters looking to maintain the sleek and slender figure. While this fad has blown up, the number of Celiac Disease diagnoses have also steadily increased. It is estimated that one in 133 Americans have the disease, that’s approximately 3 million Americans fighting this endless battle.
What’s more, the number of misdiagnosis related to Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance is off the charts. It has been said that for every person diagnosed with CD there are an additional seven people who go undiagnosed for 5-10 years. How is this possible you ask? Knowledge about gluten and gluten-related health issues are still fairly new to the medical world, leaving many doctors unaware of the symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity.
To clear things up, here is a brief overview of the differences between Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance along with common symptoms and questions that may arise.
- an autoimmune disorder in which the body is unable to process gluten
- when eaten, gluten damages the small intestine (the villi) causing the malabsorption of nutrients and possibly leading to immune-related disorders
Gluten Intolerance (non-Celiac)
- characterized by antigliadin antibodies, not an auto-immune disorder
- less severe than Celiac Disease
- no physical harm occurs in the small intestine
Symptoms – While the level and intensity of symptoms vary, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness states that the most common symptoms include: Bloating or Gas, Diarrhea/Constipation, Fatigue, Itchy Skin Rash, Tingling/Numbness, Pale Mouth Sores, Joint Pain, Delayed Growth, Poor Weight Gain, Thin Bones, Infertility, Headaches, Depression, Irritability, Discolored Teeth
*Please note this are not the only symptoms present in either CD or gluten intolerance. Symptoms vary for each individual and should be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
How do I know if I have Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance?
- A blood test can screen for CD but is not 100% accurate. An intestinal biopsy must also be done to confirm whether or not a person has Celiac Disease.
- To measure the body’s response to gluten, the following tests may be used: Total IgA, IgA-tTG, IgA-EMA, If IgA is deficient, it is recommended that the IgG/IgA-DGP also be ordered. At the discretion of the doctor, IgG-AGA can also be ordered.
What Are The Treatment Options?
Unfortunately, the only sure fire treatment for either Celiac or gluten sensitivity is to completely eliminate gluten from your diet. While it may be daunting at first, there are a plethora of resources that can guide you or a loved one along this journey. Not to mention, most grocery stores now have their own “gluten free” section to make finding your OK foods much simpler.
Also, be sure to visit the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness on their website for more complete information and don’t forget about the great products offered here at Rudi’s Gluten Free Bakery!