Celiac Disease Myths

Celiac Disease Myths Debunked

People possessing celiac disease develop a strong immune response to gluten, which is a protein present in rye, wheat, barley, and oats. This immune response attacks the villi, microscopic hairs in the mucosa lining of the small intestine and flattens it, thereby reducing the surface area meant for nutrient absorption. This leads to impaired digestive system. In due course, if left untreated, it can lead to complications like weight loss or gain, gastrointestinal symptoms and many more. All this is true but there exists some myths about the disease.

Myth 1: Celiac disease occurs rarely in Canada and US

Even until recently, the celiac disease has been assumed rare. In 2003, US had only 40000 celiacs. Soon after, the Center for Celiac Research from the University of Maryland, through one of its studies, estimated 2.5 million celiac in US. In due course, the estimate increased to 3 million. In Canada, one from every 100 was found to have the disease, amounting to nearly 333000 celiacs. Owing to many of its symptoms being similar to other diseases, nearly 75% of this population remains undiagnosed.

Myth No 2: Celiac disease is a childhood disease

This was proved wrong. In the past, many believed that celiac occurs only in children. But it can affect all individuals irrespective of age. In reality, two-thirds of the above-diagnosed people were adults. It can occur naturally in all people, owing to genes in children and in adults, it is induced by surgery, pregnancy, severe emotional stress or gastrointestinal infection. As per a survey conducted by the Canadian Celiac Association in 2007, the average time for a normal celiac to get himself diagnosed is 12 years. Many patients reported a great switching between many doctors to identify their problem properly. This leads to the start of a gluten-free diet only at the age of forties for many people due to late diagnosis.

Myth 3: Celiac disease can be easily diagnosed by a blood test.

There are many researches to identify better effective ways for early diagnosis of the disease. Biocard Tes Kit was approved recently Health Canada. It is an easy at-home test helps in measuring the immune response for gluten in the blood. You need to place a drop of your blood into a chip, which detects the presence of antibodies (fighting gluten) in the blood. Anyway, this just serves to be a preliminary test for diagnosing the disease. It does not confirm its presence. The next stage is to check through a small bowel biopsy done by a gastroenterologist. Though these two steps are routine for celiac diagnosis, there are chances that a biopsy may show a false negative, in case of your diet being gluten-free just before the test. So try to avoid gluten-free foods while diagnosis process.

Myth 4: A celiac needs to avoid just wheat and its products

There is another complication called wheat allergy. This must not be confused with celiac disease. In wheat allergy, the individual has abnormal response for only the proteins from wheat. It can cause rashes, eczema and anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition, which can swell up your throat, tongue and lips. In contrast, celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder causing immune responses for all gluten proteins present in many foods and not wheat alone. Hence it is necessary to avoid not only wheat, but also rye, barley and oats. To be specific, in the wheat family, avoid kamut, semolina, durum, spelt, faro and einkorn.