May is Celiac disease awareness month. Celiac is very similar to gluten intolerance and can be very hard to diagnose says Dr. Scot Lewey, with Peak Gastroenterology and Associates in Colorado Springs.
"Celiac disease is a genetically predisposed autoimmune condition that involves inflammation of the intestines in response to wheat, barley, or rye gluten proteins. The classic symptoms are gas, bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, non-gastrointestinal symptoms can include short stature in children, failure to grow, anyone with type 1 diabetes especially children, down syndrome children, people with unexplained iron deficiency anemia, premature osteoporosis, neurological symptoms that are not easily explained. Also unexplained rashes, particularly blistering rashes on the skin. People with fatigue. and brain fog, those can be attributed to untreated Celiac. There are a wide range of symptoms, both intestinal and non-intestinal you need to be on the lookout for. Certainly those with a family history of Celiac and general symptoms that don't make any sense. Celiac disease is a great masquerader.”
So while Celiac disease make look and feel a lot like being allergic to gluten, it's not the same thing says Dr. Lewey.
“Celiac disease is a very specific genetically inherited, autoimmune response of the gut to gluten. There are people that do not have Celiac, but have a sensitivity to gluten. There is a genetic predisposition to Celiac in about 30% of people who carry the gene that puts them at risk for Celiac and world wide 1% of people on average have Celiac disease. Of that 1% worldwide only about 10% are ever diagnosed with Celiac disease so despite the popularity of the gluten free diet, many Celiac patients go undiagnosed. There is also a myth that you have to be underweight to have Celiac so people who are considered overweight or obese may not be screened but one third of patients that are newly diagnosed with Celiac are overweight "
If you’re thinking of going gluten free in your diet for any reason, Doctor Lewey recommends getting tested for Celiac before you reduce the gluten levels in your body. The test is a simple blood test that if positive would then be confirmed with a biopsy.