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02/08/2009

A chronic health problem? Can be an undiagnosed Celiac disease

(NaturalNews) It's clear that traditional medicine is not managing the huge problem of chronic illness very well. Every year, the numbers of people that are diagnosed with a chronic health problem are increasing- with little hope of effective treatment in most cases. And doctors who are entrusted to finding an appropriate diagnosis and treatment for patients are consistently missing the common, easily treatable, yet devastating diagnosis of Celiac Disease in millions of people every year.

Celiac Disease (CD) is a very real and widespread autoimmune disease caused by a genetic inability to digest the protein portion of many common grains- including those in wheat. This undigested protein, known as gluten or gliadin, is then attacked by the body's own immune system, causing inflammation and damage to the small intestine. The 'classic' symptoms of Celiac Disease include abdominal pain and weight loss, but its presentation is rarely consistent from patient to patient. CD's incredibly wide variety of symptoms often seem to be completely unrelated to the digestive tract, and in fact some presentations of the disease strangely have a complete lack of inflammation in the gut. With an individual's symptoms ranging anywhere from the inability of a woman to conceive, to anemia, to dementia- it can be a puzzle that many doctors have been unable to figure out.

"Delay in diagnosing CD has resulted in
long periods of ill health for many.
Little emphasis seems to have been
placed on this aspect of the disease."
From 'Celiac Disease and Dermatitis Herpetiformis'

In fact, the diagnosis is so frequently missed that one study showed that it takes an AVERAGE of 5 years from the time of first onset of symptoms to getting the diagnosis of celiac disease; some studies show that this time lag is up to 10 years! This is tragic considering that the effective non-drug treatment is simply the avoidance of gluten in the diet. Missing this diagnosis could be understood if there were little research on these 'atypical presentations', but there are thousands of studies showing that CD is rampant. Dr. Alessio Fasano of the University of Maryland Medical Center believes that it is missed so often and is such a huge health issue, that mass screenings should be instituted. He states emphatically that, "CD is one of the most frequent genetically based diseases of humankind"!

" It seems that, in spite of
advances in modern diagnostic techniques,
little progress has been made in
hastening the diagnosis of CD"
From 'Celiac Disease and Dermatitis Herpetiformis'

So, what symptoms should doctors be looking for in order to consider the diagnosis of Celiac Disease? The research is pretty clear; virtually ANY chronic problem, whether there is a reason for it or not, should make a clinician consider Celiac Disease. ANYTHING AT ALL! The conclusions from many different research articles prove this point:

-"Much more attention must be given, particularly to the finding of anemia, to a possible early indicator of CD"

- "The majority of people with CD are symptom-free adults; the remainder are prone to a bewildering variety of signs and symptoms, ranging from infertility to type 1 diabetes."

-"Neurologic syndromes may be the presenting extraintestinal manifestation of gluten sensitivity with or without intestinal pathology. These include migraine, encephalopathy, chorea, brain stem dysfunction, myelopathy, mononeuritis multiplex, Guillain-Barre like syndrome, and neuropathy..."

-"The prevalence of celiac disease in osteoporosis is high enough to justify a recommendation for serologic screening of all patients with osteoporosis"

-"Strict adherence to the Gluten Free Diet seems to be the only possibility of preventing a subset of rare but very aggressive forms of cancer."

Other studies show that the damage and inflammation in the intestines caused by Celiac Disease is the primary cause of most autoimmune diseases- no matter what name that autoimmune disease happens to go by. Other diseases that are associated with Celiac Disease are: chronic fatigue syndrome, gall bladder disease, liver disease, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression, psychiatric problems, epilepsy, skin conditions, obesity, alcoholism, recurrent pancreatitis, lymphoma, arthritis, and many others. Even more importantly, these problems are not just 'associated' with celiac disease, but they nearly all show IMPROVEMENT with a gluten free diet.

Despite thousands of studies and dozens of awareness groups promoting the screening and diagnosis of Celiac Disease, it is still being almost completely overlooked in traditional medicine. Yet desperate patients who take matters into their own hands and find relief with a gluten free diet are often ignored or scorned by their clinicians. Hopefully the future will bring more education to doctors who are still so obviously unaware of the devastating effects of this disease and the lasting positive effects that a simple dietary modification can bring.

Resources

http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues...

http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/pi...

http://www.easy-immune-health.com/c...

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