Gluten intolerance is a term I use to embrace both celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease was described over 100 years ago and was portrayed as an illness that caused severe weight loss, digestive pain and diarrhea. When I went to school I memorized those facts as strongly indicative of celiac disease. Even though I’ve been out of school for two decades, that ‘picture’ of celiac disease still remains, for most doctors, as what they should anticipate in a celiac patient.
You may be aware that we only diagnose 3 to 5% of all the patients suffering from celiac disease in this country. Of the 3 to 12 million suffering, a scant percentage of them ever find out that their problem is actually an intolerance to gluten.
I have had several patients contact me asking me to help them get tested because their doctor refused. Why? Simply because they were overweight, or at least not underweight, there doctor refused.
It struck me that while we are abysmal at diagnosing those suffering from celiac disease and gluten sensitivity (likely 99% remain undiagnosed), it is those who are overweight who are perhaps most ignored. When you consider that 2/3 of our population is overweight, you start to see a potential reason why we diagnose so few who are suffering.
The facts are that the face of a celiac or gluten intolerant patient can present as almost anything.
- They can have digestive pain.
- They can have no digestive complaints.
- They can be depressed or schizophrenic.
- They can be underweight.
- They can be overweight.
- They can have skin problems.
- They can have joint pain.
- Or, they can feel just fine – ‘silent celiac disease’.
The bottom line is that we need our medical community to wake up and realize that the face of celiac disease is as varied as the human body and it can be associated with over 300 conditions and diseases.
A recent research study from 2010 looked at about 200 celiacs diagnosed over the course of 10 years, between 1999 and 2009. The patients ranged broadly in age. It was found that a full 44% of them were overweight at the time of diagnosis and less than 3% were underweight at the time of diagnosis. What does that tell us? The face of celiac disease has changed and we need to know what present day, modern celiac disease looks like.
Our country is drug oriented and there is no medication to treat celiac disease. Does that mean it should be ignored? Does that mean that we should continue to only treat with drugs the diseases that celiac and gluten intolerance causes such as depression, thyroid disease, migraines, cancer, heart disease and the like?
Does it make sense to treat the symptoms when you could isolate and remove the root cause and truly cure the problem? You tell me, does that make sense?
What has been your experience with getting diagnosed? Have you found doctors to be less than receptive when you didn’t have classic celiac symptoms?
I’d love to hear from you!
Remember that I’m here to help and if you need assistance in getting properly diagnosed or fully resolving the negative effects celiac disease has created on your health, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free health analysis. Call 408-733-0400.
To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of the e-Book: “Gluten Intolerance – What you don’t know may be killing you!”
Nominated ‘Gluten Free Doctor of the Year 2012’