Why is Celiac Disease So Tough to Diagnose?

Gluten is found in grains, such as wheat.

Gluten is found in grains, such as wheat, barley and rye.

There is an unfortunate misconception that celiac disease, which is a physical intolerance of gluten, is not a real condition, but more of a dietary “fad”. Though it’s true that awareness of celiacs has increased dramatically in recent years and the amount of products in groceries stores that claim to be “gluten free” has also made an impressive leap in popularity – the idea that gluten intolerance is trend that will fade and be replaced by a new fad is simply not true.

Celiac disease is a real condition that can seriously impact the quality of life for an individual who is unaware of their condition, or for those who fail to adhere to a gluten-free lifestyle.

Although there has been a swell of information about celiac disease in the last decade, doctors still face difficulties in diagnosing celiac disease because the symptoms of the condition are so wide ranging. Symptoms for celiac can include but are not limited to:

• Weight loss
• Vomiting
• Chronic diarrhea
• Constipation
• Abdominal pain
• Abdominal bloating
• Fatigue
• Joint pain
• Abnormal stool
• Missed menstrual periods
• Infertility and/or recurrent miscarriage
• Itchy rashes
• Oral canker sores
• Anxiety and/or depression
• Seizures
• Anemia

As you can see, this list contains many symptoms that could easily be attributed to non-celiac conditions. Scientists believe that the reason symptoms may differ so widely is that celiac disease can affect each person who suffers from the condition differently. Symptoms can also appear at different ages. In addition, the appearance and ultimate severity of each symptom may depend on how long a person has been eating foods with gluten.

It’s essential that patients who experience the symptoms listed above contact their doctor to discuss what they are experiencing. The final diagnosis may not be celiac disease, but with testing your doctor can rule out other conditions and determine which treatment best suits your individual situation.

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