Every year, on September 13th, we observe the National Celiac Disease Awareness Day. The day is a good time to examine and know about this little-known disease that affects 3 million Americans every year.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune genetic disorder wherein a person who suffers from such a problem cannot consume gluten. Gluten is the protein that is found in rye, wheat, and barley.
The immune system of the person afflicted with this disease responds by attacking their small intestines. This inhibits the absorption of significant nutrients. If not diagnosed or treated correctly, celiac disease could pose other dangers to the human body. It can increase various disorders, such as cancer, osteoporosis, and even infertility.
This year, on National Celiac Disease Awareness Day, learn a little more and share what you know.
The United States Senate developed the National Celiac Disease Awareness Day to raise awareness about the condition. In their resolution, the Senate stated that everyone should be informed about this condition. Dr. Samuel Gee discovered celiac disease in 1888. He was a pediatrician who noticed the symptoms tied to his patient’s diets. The day is celebrated in his honor, the difference he made to the lives of his patients by educating them and making them aware of the disease. His birthday was marked as the day to celebrate Celiac Disease Awareness Day.
This National Celiac Disease Awareness Day, know what symptoms can look like among adults and children.
Symptoms among children
Children are more susceptible to digestive symptoms. Here are the most common symptoms that suggest a child has celiac disease.
1. Abdominal bloating and pain
2. Chronic diarrhea
5. Pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
6. Iron-deficiency anemia
7. Weight loss
9. Irritability and behavioral issues
10. Dental enamel defects of the permanent teeth
11. Delayed growth and puberty
12. Short stature
13. Failure to thrive
14. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Symptoms among adults
In contrast to children, adults are not that susceptible to digestive symptoms. Only 1/3 of all adults experience diarrhea. The most common symptoms of celiac disease among adults are:
1. Unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
3. Bone or joint pain
5. Osteoporosis or osteopenia (bone loss)
6. Liver and biliary tract disorders (transaminitis, fatty liver, primary sclerosing cholangitis, etc.)
7. Depression or anxiety
8. Peripheral neuropathy (tingling, numbness, or pain in the hands and feet)
9. Seizures or migraines
10. Missed menstrual periods
11. Infertility or recurrent miscarriage
12. Canker sores inside the mouth
13. Dermatitis herpetiformis (itchy skin rash)
Today, there is only one treatment to cure celiac disease. The only way is by adhering to a strict gluten-free diet for a lifetime. People living a gluten-free life should avoid food items like wheat, rye, barley, bread, beer, etc. Ingesting a small amount of gluten, even a bread crumb from your toaster or your chopping board, can trigger damage to your small intestines.
People with celiac disease can consume a well-balanced diet with a variety of food items on their plates. This can also include gluten-free pasta and bread. People who cannot eat wheat flour can replace it with potato flour, rice flour, soy flour, or bean flour. Plain meat, rice, fish, vegetables, and fruits can also return other gluten-rich food items for people with celiac disease.
Plain meat, fish, rice, fruits, and vegetables do not contain gluten, so people with celiac disease can eat as much of these foods as they like.
There is no cure for celiac disease yet.
Facts About Celiac Disease
Celiac Disease is pretty common among Caucasians. It is also commonly found among women, people with Down syndrome and Type 1 diabetes.
People who are sensitive to gluten can experience bloating and diarrhea. However, it is different from celiac disease as it compromises the person’s overall immune system due to the disease.
Every year, the number of Americans suffering from celiac disease increases.
Digestive symptoms related to the disease can be more commonly seen among children and infants. The symptoms include abdominal pain, constipation, vomiting, and diarrhea.
The list of adult symptoms is pretty long -- unexplained iron deficiency, anemia, bone/joint pain, fatigue, osteoporosis, osteopenia, liver disorders, and depression.
Significance of National Celiac Disease Day
Observing the day helps the researchers follow and record the cases left undiagnosed. Approximately 97% of cases every year are left undiagnosed in the US alone. This leaves many people to suffer unnecessarily when help can be provided.
The day often leads people to come to terms with their health. It helps answer all kinds of questions they were clueless about since people did not know of celiac disease affecting various parts of their bodies. It helps people understand the causes behind their digestive system, joint pains, or even a skin rash.
Observing the day or even knowing about the disease can help save your loved one’s life. Celiac disease is known to affect one percent of all Americans. This day can help in spreading valuable information about the condition.
Observing National Celiac Disease Awareness Day
The best way to celebrate National Celiac Disease Awareness Day is to understand how gluten-free food is prepared. Globally, 1 out of every 100 people suffers from some degree of this disease. Someone in your family or friends likely needs your help understanding the implications and significance of this disease.
Therefore, the best way to observe the day is by presenting your loved ones with a special gluten-free meal that everyone around you can enjoy without reservations. National Celiac Disease Awareness Day is your opportunity to learn about the disease, educate yourself and those around you, and save lives.
Other ways to celebrate and honor the day are:
Switch to a gluten-free diet
Being unaware of their gluten sensitivity, some people can find it better when they stop consuming more protein. Once the valuable information spreads and they know more about the disease, people switch to a gluten-free diet to save their lives. This can be a life-changing decision for many. So, if you aim to switch to a gluten-free diet and feel good after, consult a healthcare provider. You should also adopt the diet as a part of your life.
Know where gluten is hiding
Gluten can hide in the most unexpected places. Foods like soups, salad dressings, and even soy sauce contain gluten. So, if you are eating out or shopping for groceries, don’t be afraid to check on the gluten content in your food.
You can also observe the National Celiac Disease Awareness Day by sporting a light green ribbon in honor of the day and educating those around you.
Celiac Disease and Covid-19
Researchers have been studying if there is any connection between Celiac Disease and Covid-19. They have also shared a statement on this front. Their statement talked about the lack of evidence suggesting people who have Celiac Disease would be more prone to the adverse effects of either Covid-19 disease or its vaccinations.
Celiac disease is not an allergy on its own. It does not prompt any additional precautionary measures when going forward with the vaccine for Covid-19. If any concern does erupt among patients, they should speak with their health care providers about the same.
Moreover, no evidence suggests Covid-19 affects people with celiac disease, which is within control, more than others. However, people with active celiac disease can be easily susceptible to infections in general.
Celiac Disease is hereditary, meaning that it can run in your family for generations. The disease can develop at any age. If left undiagnosed or untreated, it can cause other autoimmune disorders like Type 1 diabetes, Sclerosis, Anemia, neurological conditions, etc. Learn more about the disease, educate yourself and your loved ones, and save lives this National Celiac Disease Awareness Day.
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