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The Basics of Celiac Disease

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Saturday (September 13th) is National Celiac Disease Awareness day (http://healthfinder.gov/NHO/nhoPDF/2014nho.pdf).

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness is a great site to learn more about celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders. A prompt and proper diagnosis is essential for early medical intervention. On their site, you will find a list of symptoms that may indicate celiac disease. Some of these symptoms include the following:

· Bloating or abdominal swelling

· Changes in bowel habits ( constipation or diarrhea)

· Fatigue

· Irritability

· Headaches

· Fertility issues

· Growth issues in childhood.

Although these symptoms are generic in nature, and can indicate a variety of medical concerns, it is important to discuss abnormal symptoms with your healthcare provider. Untreated symptoms may lead to more complicated conditions and treatment options.

The treatment of confirmed celiac disease is also discussed on the site. The treatment includes a strict gluten free diet (as gluten can further damage the intestines). A gluten –free diet involves avoidance of food products that contain wheat, rye, and barley. Although it may seem daunting to eliminate these foods from your diet, many alternatives exist, allowing people with celiac disease to eat a healthy- well balanced diet with sufficient nutrients. The site has several links on education, including free newsletters, shopping guides, and a symptoms checklist.

Currently, an estimated 1 in 133 Americans have celiac disease, representing approximately 1% of the population. Although there is no pharmaceutical “cure all” for celiac disease, changes in diet can greatly impact one’s overall health. Discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider, and be on the road to a healthier, happier quality of life.

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