Monday, June 15, 2009
Is There Really an Asymptomatic Celiac?
Below is a follow-up response from the same reader with celiac disease who was concerned about his family. They didn’t want to find out if they were gluten sensitive or not, despite having a multitude of health issues.
I post it here because it brings up a very good point that I see mentioned in the literature, and that is a person called an “asymptomatic celiac”. I always wondered if they were truly asymptomatic or if they were labeled as such because they didn’t present with the “classic” celiac symptoms of weight loss, diarrhea and digestive complaints. Such a narrow grouping of symptoms is truly outdated by today’s standards but this gentleman was initially diagnosed over a decade ago when much less was known about celiac and gluten sensitivity.
Confirming my suspicions, he makes the following statements:
“Even though I was considered asymptomatic, my immune system wasn't strong, and I did have some unexplained stomach issues that now all seem so clear. My 2 most favorite benefits from being healthy is that I no longer get 3-4 ear infections each year, and I'm off my Nexium for GERD. However, I know that my intestinal maladies cost my insurance company money for tests, medications, etc. If we all took a look at preventing some of these diseases before they start, it would be a huge savings over a lifetime. In addition, babies would never know what they were missing if they never tasted a mint Milano or a warm croissant!
Thanks for having a blog that is informative and medically substantiated. I avoid all the "susiehasceliacs.com" type websites and blogs for fear of misinformation.”
His low immune system and reflux disease are obviously consistent with gluten sensitivity and are not at all outside the list we consider to be quite common today. Unfortunately too many people have the less commonly understood symptoms of depression, anxiety, weight gain and autoimmune disease. These symptoms do not readily make a clinician suspect gluten. Something I hope to correct by increasing awareness of all the scientific studies that do support the correlation.
He also makes a very good point as regards early diagnosis. In our book “The Gluten Effect” we discuss such conditions as fatigue, IBS, constipation, diarrhea, obesity, diabetes, migraines, ataxia, depression, anxiety, arthritis, ADD, MS, lupus, thyroid disease, liver malfunction and osteoporosis. We show the connection between each one and gluten as a causative agent.
While I think it’s much higher, imagine if just 10% of each one of those problems could be eliminated from our society by early diagnosis of gluten sensitivity. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Do you realize how much our health status would improve? Can you fathom how much money would be saved in health bills, not to mention improved quality of life?
It’s my dream. Help to make it a reality by sharing this data with those you care about. You will make a difference and believe me, as people feel better they share it with others, and they share with others, and so on and so on!
To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of "The Gluten Effect"