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National Celiac Disease Awareness Day


Every year on September 13, National Celiac Disease Awareness Day encourages us to support those who suffer from celiac disease, an auto-immune disease that is estimated to affect 3 million people in the United States alone. National Celiac Awareness Day promotes the importance of diagnosis as well as bringing resources and support to those who have already been diagnosed. A Senate resolution calling for the commemoration gained unanimous approval on Aug. 3, 2010. In marking the awareness day, the Senate “recognizes that all people of the United States should become more informed and aware of celiac disease,” the resolution stated.

Celiac disease was first discovered in 1888 by Samuel Gee, a pediatrician who recognized that the symptoms he was observing were all tied to the diet of his patients. Those with celiac disease avoid gluten due to the immune response that damages the villi in the small intestine. Over time, the damage prevents the absorption of nutrients into the body. Grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and even some oat products contain gluten. Left undiagnosed or untreated, celiac disease can lead to other disorders, including cancer, osteoporosis and infertility.

Here are some things to keep in mind on National Celiac Disease Awareness Day:

  • Try a gluten-free diet. Some people — unaware of their own sensitivity to gluten — find that they feel much better when they stop eating foods containing the protein.
  • Learn where gluten hides. Foods like soups, salad dressings, and soy sauce can unexpectedly contain gluten. If you're eating out, don't be afraid to ask if a food contains gluten.
  • Reading food labels. Whether you're suffering from celiac disease or not, this is one of the best ways to monitor our health.

Facts about Celiac Disease

  • ​Celiac disease is more common in Caucasians, women, people with Down syndrome, and patients with type 1 diabetes.
  • ​People with gluten sensitivity may experience bloating and diarrhea — but only people with celiac disease have compromised immune systems as a result of this disease.
  • The number of Americans with celiac disease is increasing — possibly due to increased awareness and better diagnostic techniques.
  • Digestive symptoms are more common in infants and children. These include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation.
  • Adult symptoms of celiac disease include unexplained iron-deficiency anemia, fatigue, bone or joint pain, arthritis, osteoporosis or osteopenia (bone loss), liver disorders and depression.
  • It is estimated that about 97 percent of celiac cases go undiagnosed in the U.S., leaving many people to suffer needlessly.

What can I eat if I have Celiac Disease?

Naturally Gluten-Free Food Groups include, fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, dairy, fish and seafood, beans and other legumes, and nuts.  Most grocery stores offer gluten-free sections to accommodate a number of manufactures who are now providing gluten-free alternatives.

If you think you are suffering from celiac disease, contact your primary care provider for a check—up and consultation. If you do not have a primary care provider, contact the CCMH Medical Clinic at 712-265-2700.