Could you or your child have celiac disease?

Could you or your child have celiac disease?

Only 17 percent of Americans living with celiac disease have been diagnosed. It’s estimated that two and a half million people in the U.S. have the disease, and don’t know it.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder, which left untreated can lead to many other health problems, including other autoimmune diseases. The only treatment is a strict gluten-free diet. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye and barley. The disease is hereditary; if a close relative has celiac disease, you have a one in 10 chance of developing it.

For people with celiac disease, eating gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. Children can have delayed growth and weight gain due to malabsorption and nutrition deficiencies. Experts urge individuals, who may have symptoms or a family history, to be screened as early as possible for the disease. Celiac disease can occur at any age, including older adults.

“It is extremely important that individuals, including children, are diagnosed early,” says Dr. Esperanza Garcia-Alvarez, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. “The earlier that we can remove gluten from the diet, the less likely there will be long-term negative effects on someone’s overall health. Our goal is to help diagnose and then support these individuals in living a gluten-free lifestyle.”

Because there are nearly 300 possible symptoms for celiac disease, it can be difficult to diagnose without a blood test. In fact, some individuals with the disease have no symptoms or only have them infrequently. The most common symptoms in both children and adults include:

  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Stomach upset
  • Constipation
  • Gas and bloating
  • Digestive problems
  • Poor growth in children

If you believe you or your child may have celiac disease, a simple blood test screening can give you some more information.

The Pediatric Celiac Center at Advocate Children’s Hospital is sponsoring an upcoming screening to identify adults and children, two and older, who may have celiac disease.

If you live in the Chicagoland area and would like to attend the upcoming free screening event, it will take place on Saturday, March 12, 2016, from 9 am to 1 pm in the Center for Advanced Care on the campus of Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.

Registration is required. For more information, click here.

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About the Author

Mickey Ramirez
Mickey Ramirez

Mickey Ramirez, health enews contributor, is the director of Brand Services. He enjoys kimchi, honesty and a room with a view. He claims to not be a writer, but he occasionally learns information that is just too important to keep to himself.