Celiac disease seen as being vastly underdiagnosed

Do you have chronic abdominal symptoms that have never been diagnosed? Or, have you self-diagnosed your recurrent abdominal pain as lactose intolerance or irritable bowel syndrome? If so, you may want to consider this report on Celiac disease.

The New York Times “Reporter’s File” notes, “It takes the average patient 10 years to receive a diagnosis,” and experts say “they are the lucky ones.”

Recent data indicate that “three million Americans, or one in every 133 people, have celiac disease.” But, “95 percent of them have yet to learn they have it,” because the “disease is often difficult to detect.”

While seen as “a rare disorder” a decade ago, physicians now “know that the disease is much more common.”

Still, because “most patients never experience the so-called classic symptoms,” the “condition is … commonly mistaken for other ailments,” such as IBS and lactose intolerance.

“Part of the problem is also a lack of education among physicians, particularly internists.”

Thus, the National Institutes of Health kicked off a campaign in 2006 “to raise awareness of the disease among both the general public and physicians.”

If you have chronic abdominal symptoms that have not been diagnosed, be sure to see your personal physician — and ask him or her if they’ve considered and tested you for Celiac disease.

You can learn more about Celiac disease from the Celiac foundation (here) or the NIH (here).

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