celiac disease defined
Celiac Disease (CD) is an autoimmune condition triggered by the intake of gluten in genetically predisposed individuals. When gluten is eaten, the body does not recognize it as food and reacts as though itís being invaded by a foreign substance. This causes damage to the small intestine, preventing the absorption of certain vital nutrients.
The only treatment for CD patients is a strict gluten-free diet for life. Luckily, there are now many tasty and nutritious gluten-free foods, like Enjoy Life, on store shelves that make it easier than ever before to eliminate gluten from oneís diet. For more information on following a gluten-free diet click here.
how common is celiac disease?
Once thought to be a rare disorder, CD is now known to affect as many as 1 in 100 Americans. However, the majority of those affected are still undiagnosed. Symptoms of the disease vary in nature (diarrhea, skin rashes, migraine headaches) and severity (from debilitating to mild to none). Left untreated, CD may result in diseases of malnutrition such as osteoporosis, infertility and anemia and it also increases oneís likelihood of developing other autoimmune diseases.
diagnosing celiac disease
CD is the most under-diagnosed health condition today. Itís often mislabeled as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, ulcers or anxiety disorders. The National Institutes of Health recently launched a Celiac Disease awareness program (www.celiac.nih.gov) to increase awareness of the disease and its diagnosis among doctors and healthcare practitioners. Increased awareness will lead to increased diagnosis and treatment.
Celiac Disease is diagnosed through a combination of a simple blood test and a biopsy of the small intestine. If you suspect that you have CD, we recommend you talk to your physician about diagnostic testing options.
get smart about CD!
The Celiac Disease community is fortunate to have several great support organizations that are focused on research, disease awareness and patient support. Visit the other resources area of our site for links to celiac support organizations and websites.
Also, our gluten-free and tips and hints pages provide more helpful information on what it means to live gluten-free. View our useful Survival Guide, or request one to be sent to you by mail by clicking here
genetic information nondiscrimination act (GINA)
Signed into law on May 21, 2008, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits discrimination against individuals on the basis of their genetic information in both employment and health care. This legislation is vital to all individuals who have, or whose family members may have a genetic condition such as celiac disease. You can download our GINA Fact Sheet by clicking here.