- Irregular menses
- Recurrent canker sores in your mouth
- Dental enamel defects, recurrent cavities
- Osteopenia or osteoporosis
- Abnormal liver chemistry
- Type 1 diabetes
- Autoimmune thyroid disease (hypothyroid or hyperthyroid)
- Autoimmune liver disease
- Lactose intolerance
- Dermatitis herpetiformis, an itchy rash
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Sjogren’s disease
- Down Syndrome
- Depression, anxiety
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Tingling in hands and feet
- A first- or second-degree relative with celiac disease
That’s a long list of people who should be screened for celiac disease. You might be wondering, why hasn’t my doctor already tested me for celiac? Unfortunately many doctors inaccurately regard celiac disease as rare and characterized by diarrhea. The reality is that celiac disease is common, particularly in people who have the conditions listed above.
What is your risk?
Based on your health and genetics, your risk will vary.
- Infertility of unknown cause, 1 in 16 have celiac
- First-degree relative of person with celiac, 1 in 22 have celiac
- Type 1 diabetes, 1 in 23 have celiac
- Anemia, 1 in 24 have celiac
- Joint pain, 1 in 31 have celiac
- Osteoporosis, 1 in 39 have celiac
- No symptoms or associated conditions? 1 in 133 have celiac
Silent but significant
If you think there’s no way you could have this condition because you don’t feel terrible, consider this: a well-done large US trial found that 41% of people diagnosed with celiac disease through a mass screening were asymptomatic.
It’s true that celiac disease can be fairly silent in many people. A bit of gas and bloating may not be cause for alarm. You may simply accept your low energy level and low mood as “normal”. Gas, bloating, fatigue, or depression are not normal. If you have celiac disease, there is a guaranteed dietary solution to improve your overall well-being and quality of life, in addition to preventing other diseases, including cancer, and early death.
Those of you who feel that it’s not worth knowing if you have celiac or not, be aware that if you have undiagnosed (or untreated) celiac disease you are at greater risk for osteoporosis, infertility, autoimmune diseases, intestinal cancers and early death. Once celiac disease is managed with a strict, gluten-free diet, these risks normalize.
Celiac disease is genetic and it is not uncommon for one family member to be diagnosed with celiac and others to follow.
Due to the genetic nature of celiac, all first- and second-degree relatives of individuals with celiac disease should be routinely screened for celiac disease regardless of symptoms.
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness has a wealth of information this month regarding helping “our family members get diagnosed so they can restore their health and reclaim their lives”.
There are three tests to screen for celiac disease:
- Total IgA
- tTg IgA
Ask your doctor for these three tests. If you aren’t working with a knowledgable physician, work with me and I can help you get these tests done. If you get tested, be sure to work with a celiac expert to evaluate your risks and the test results. Sometimes further testing beyond the blood tests is warranted.
NOTE: you must be eating gluten (found in wheat, barley and rye) multiple times daily for these blood tests to be accurate.
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