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Why Celiac Disease is So Common

Gluten Allergies Becoming Increasingly Common

Have you noticed the plethora of gluten-free foods on the shelves of your local grocery store — pastas, cereals, baking mixes, and more. For folks suffering from celiac disease, a gluten allergy, these foods are vital to their daily diet, and according to a study by the Mayo Clinic, celiac disease is four times more common today than it was in the 1950s. It's estimated that one in every 133 people has celiac disease.

Allergies to gluten, the protein in wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats, create a wide variety of symptoms including: painful stomach cramps, bloating, gas, increased appetite (due to malabsorption of nutrients), weight loss, fatigue, constipation, or diarrhea. Not only that but eating these foods causes damage to the villi in the intestines, affecting the body's ability to absorb nutrients properly. It can also be fatal, so it's really important to avoid gluten-filled foods if you're allergic.

The most likely explanation may be due to our environment. Culturally, we tend to be such germaphobes; all our cleaning and killing germs may be contributing to an overall increase in allergies, asthma, and immune system reactions. This "hygiene hypothesis" may fall short though since celiac disease is a global issue, affecting both developed and developing countries. A competing explanation revolves around the overly processed nature of most gluten products, and many people's diets consist mainly of foods such as bread, pasta, and baked goods. We may be overdoing it. Though scientists have yet to pinpoint the exact cause of this condition, I'm sure they're working on figuring it out since it's become so common. Tell me, do you know anyone with celiac disease?

Join The Conversation
sparklestar sparklestar 8 years
I live a gluten free life because whenever I do eat gluten I gain weight and my poop floats. TMI? Oh well...!! The doctors won't test me for celiacs and keep telling me I have IBS. IBS caused by gluten intolerance perhaps?! So I manage it myself.
cg130 cg130 8 years
I'm SO glad I don't have this! I definitely thought I did for a while, but I don't, and I'm so happy!
Talldiva45 Talldiva45 8 years
I have both Celiac Disease and the even more severe Chron's Disease. After severe pain to the point where I have blacked out and frequent trips to the ER and hospital stays I am just glad I found a very talented and knowledgeable DR. as he diagnosed me. I am and have been gltuen free for years yet I still have pain on a weekly basis - my case is severe. My doctor is using me as an example in a case study for all Dr.s who are experts in the field. I am glad ppl are becoming more aware of this disease and more products are becoming available at grocery stores bc. the disease and lifestyle can be very difficult at times. Thanks for the post Fit!
runfaster runfaster 8 years
None of the dozens of doctors or allergists or specialists my parents took me to since birth ever mentioned a wheat allergy, but a few years ago I cut out wheat/gluten because I read something that suggested it might help with training. It did, but mostly I was really surprised that all of my allergy symptoms were gone (plus, my digestive system improved a lot). I was really surprised. I feel like a completely different person.
LisaNP LisaNP 8 years
I have Celiac's. It is an auto-immune disease, NOT an allergy.
hottpink hottpink 8 years
My first cousin has battled Crohn's disease since she was very young. My husband has recently been diagnosed with Celiac's disease.
Merlin713 Merlin713 8 years
Yogaforlife - My aunt, who was my first doctor, really thought I had Celiac. My hemoglobin levels were so low (transfusion levels), that was one of the only explanations. However, my blood test came back negative for that, but, I still think something is wrong. I don't know exactly what they looked at, but maybe I have it now. It's doubtful - at least I think it is - because of my diet. It's hard to distinguish between a lot of my UC symptoms from anything Celiac related. :-( I'm stuck on this never ending diagnosis. :oy:
kia kia 8 years
1 in 133 is a high number especially since most people don't know they have it. I am so glad more people are learning to ask to be tested. I have heard so many horror stories from folks who went a long time feeling less than ideal before celiac or Crohn's crossed their radar, and voila, a proper diagnosis can make life so easy.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 8 years
laura220, I agree. Celiac's also cannot be definitively diagnosed through blood test. But the blood test was the first test my doctor's did to determine if I needed to do further testing. For me, the blood test was an easy way to determine if I needed to have more testing done. They also tested me for proteins in the blood that indicate Celiac's disease. My dad was initially diagnosed with Crohn's and Celiac's. He had a colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, x-ray, endoscopy and the doctors could not find the source of the bleeding. He ended up doing the "camera pill" as a last resort and that pinpointed the source of the bleeding and the pics also indicated Crohn's disease. They did tissue samples and determined he had Crohn's because it came back positive, in addition to Celiac's. After 6 months of following a strict diet and being on lotsof medication, they went back in and did more tissue sampling and the new testing came back negative for Crohn's. He has since had more tissue sampling done and they have all came back negative for Crohn's.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I know a couple of people with it, and have always been really glad it's somethign that I don't have to deal with myself.
Merlin713 Merlin713 8 years
Crohn's isn't definitively found by a blood test. The blood test checks for anemia and inflammation, but they won't know for sure until you get a colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, an x-ray, an endoscopy, etc. I have ulcerative colitis, family member with it as well as Chron's and Celiac.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 8 years
For anyone who thinks they have Celiac's, your doctor can do a simple blood test to determine if you may be suffering from Crohn's disease, Celiac's, or IBS.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 8 years
My father and I both have Celiac's disease. Two years ago my father went to the emergency room due to anemic seizures. The seizures were the result of having too high a loss of blood. My father had a bad case of food poisoning a month prior that resulted in him being hospitalized for two days. During that period, he was vomiting and cramping so hard, that he ruptured blood vessels in his intestines and they continued to bleed for weeks and because he wasn't spotting blood in his stool, he never knew about it and was slowly bleeding to death. When the doctor's finally went in to cauterize the blood vessels shut, they discovered his intestines were completely smooth and did testing and determined he had celiac's. Both my father and I have suffered diarrhea immediately after we eat all our lives. We thought we had IBS and just lived with this. His diagnosis has helped both of us tremendously. Once he was diagnosed, the doctor recommended that my brother and I get tested because it is hereditary and it turns out I also have celiac's, though not as severe as my father since I am still young and have not damaged my intestinal walls as much. My dad has gone completely gluten free and it has made a huge difference. He's healthier, more energetic, never has diarrhea or cramps anymore, and the psoriasis on his legs that he's had for decades has completely disappeared (it was a symptom of the gluten allergy). He knows when he's cheated because the rash will appear for a few days and that's enough to keep him on his diet. I myself have given up eating pasta and now eat rice, sworn off breads, and only eat certain cereals. My symptoms have stopped too and I just feel better. I'm not a severe case (yet) so I can eat gluten occasionally without any problems. For me, cutting out bread, pasta and cereal was enough. The silver lining about Celiac's is that if you reduce or eliminate your gluten intake, your intestines will heal (the celia grow back) and you end up having a really healthy diet for life.
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