Celiac Disease- What IS It?
Celiac disease is a genetic intolerance to gluten contained in wheat, rye, spelt, and barley. The immune response to gluten damages the lining of the small intestine leading to decreased absorption of food and nutrient deficiencies.
Celiac Disease affects 1 in 133 people.
Since it is genetic, if a family member has Celiac, chances are another family member could be affected and should be tested.
Testing for Celiac
Your physician can order blood tests that measure antibodies to gluten. If the antibodies are positive, a biopsy of the small intestine will be recommended. In order to get an accurate test result, gluten must be eaten for 4-6 weeks before and during testing.
Celiac Disease is Increasing
A recent study posted in the Annals of Medicine in 2010 found that people could lose their tolerance to gluten as they age. These people are not born with the genetic intolerance commonly seen with Celiac disease but are developing the intolerance later on in life.
Celiac Disease can affect any body system and often patients experience symptoms for 5-10 years before a proper diagnosis is made.