Silent celiac is a killer. Unbeknownst to you, every time you eat gluten your body attacks the lining of your intestine. When that happens, the villi become damaged and stop being able to absorb nutrients from your food. Over time damage progresses and the road to recovery gets longer and longer. Symptoms may be mild at first, or nonexistant. But damage is being done, putting you at higher risk for malnutrition, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, stomach cancer, osteoporosis, neurological issues, gallbladder problems, and more.
People used to think celiac only caused digestive symptoms and malnutrition. They thought of a celiac person as extremely skinny, with diarrhea. Now science has shown over 300 symptoms that can be caused by celiac disease, and that celiac people come in all sizes. Many people don’t have the typical celiac symptoms, but do have symptoms that will go away on a gluten-free diet, as their guts heal!So how should you decide whether it make sense to get tested? Lots of doctors won’t test unless the “classic” symptoms are present. Conventional wisdom still holds that celiac is a rare childhood disease that always presents as failure to thrive with severe diarrhea! The real data tell a different story.
Over the past 50 years, there has been an explosion in the prevalence of celiac disease! People with symptoms of celiac disease should also get tested. Even if you do not have typical symptoms, testing is worthwhile. 97% of people with celiac disease are undiagnosed and the prevalence is estimated at at least 1 in 133! Among people with a diagnosed family member, the prevalence of celiac disease is estimated at 1 in 22.
Celiac disease is often misdiagnosed as lactose intolerance, IBS, depression, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, gallbladder inflammation, infertility, and even hypochondria. Other problems such as ADHD, Hashimoto’s thyroidosis, other thyroid issues, Sjögren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes are also correlated with celiac disease.
So… If you have a family member with celiac disease – get tested! If you have one of these diagnoses and have not been tested for celiac disease – get tested! If you have a lot of symptoms that can’t be explained – get tested!
And one more thing… since once you are gluten-free it becomes impossible to get accurate celiac test results without a gluten challenge, so anyone who is considering a gluten-free diet should get tested for celiac disease, even if they don’t have any symptoms.
So… No Symptoms = No Celiac? Myth: Busted!
Stay tuned for more celiac myths, as well as all the details on how to get good test results!
Update: Check out the other myths we’ve exposed so far:
- Celiac Testing Myth #2 – Go Gluten-Free First
- Celiac Testing Myth #3 – Gluten-Free 4 Life = No Reason to Test
- Celiac Testing Myth #4 – Doctor Knows Best
- Celiac Testing Myth #5 – DNA = Proof
- Celiac Testing Myth #6 – Negative Results = No Problems
- Wheat Allergy and Non-celiac Gluten Intolerance