Celiac Disease (CD) is an autoimmune disease caused by a genetic inability to digest the protein portion of many common grains- including those in wheat. This undigested part of the grain, called gluten, is then attacked by the body's own immune system, causing inflammation and damage to the intestines where nutrients are absorbed. Standard Celiac Disease Symptoms, also known as Gluten Sensitivity, include abdominal pain and weight loss; but rarely is the same from patient to patient. Gluten Sensitivity's 'Mind Boggling' array of symptoms often seem to be completely unrelated to the digestive tract, and in fact some presentations of the disease, strangely have a complete lack of inflammation in the gut. With an individual's symptoms ranging anywhere from the inability of a woman to conceive, to anemia, to dementia- it can be a puzzle that many doctors have been unable to figure out.

"Delay in diagnosing CD has resulted in
long periods of ill health for many.
Little emphasis seems to have been
placed on this aspect of the disease."

From 'Celiac Disease and Dermatitis Herpetiformis'

In fact, the diagnosis is missed so often that one study showed that it takes an AVERAGE of 5 years from the time of first onset of symptoms to getting the diagnosis of celiac disease; some studies show that it takes up to 10 years to get diagnosed! This is tragic considering that effective non-drug treatment is simply the avoidance of gluten in the diet. Missing this diagnosis could be understood if there were little research on these 'atypical presentations', but there are thousands of studies showing that Gluten Sensitivity is rampant. Dr. Alessio Fasano of the University of Maryland Medical Center believes that it is missed so often and is such a huge health issue, that mass screenings should be instituted. He states emphatically that, "CD is one of the most frequent genetically based diseases of humankind"!

" It seems that, in spite of
advances in modern diagnostic techniques,
little progress has been made in
hastening the diagnosis of CD"

From 'Celiac Disease and Dermatitis Herpetiformis'

So, what symptoms should doctors be looking for in order to consider the diagnosis of Gluten Sensitivity? The research is pretty clear; virtually ANY chronic problem, whether there is a reason for it or not, should make a clinician think that they are Celiac Disease Symptoms. ANYTHING AT ALL! The conclusions from many different research articles prove this point:

-"Much more attention must be given, particularly to the finding of anemia, to a possible early indicator of CD"

- "The majority of people with CD are symptom-free adults; the remainder are prone to a bewildering variety of signs and symptoms, ranging from infertility to type 1 diabetes."

-"Neurologic syndromes may be the presenting extraintestinal manifestation of gluten sensitivity with or without intestinal pathology. These include migraine, encephalopathy, chorea, brain stem dysfunction, myelopathy, mononeuritis multiplex, Guillain-Barre like syndrome, and neuropathy..."

-"The prevalence of celiac disease in osteoporosis is high enough to justify a recommendation for serologic screening of all patients with osteoporosis"

-"Strict adherence to the Gluten Free Diet seems to be the only possibility of preventing a subset of rare but very aggressive forms of cancer."

Other studies show that the damage and inflammation in the intestines caused by Gluten Sensitivity is the primary cause of most autoimmune diseases- no matter what name that autoimmune disease happens to go by. Other diseases that are possibly just Celiac Disease symptoms are: chronic fatigue syndrome, gall bladder disease, liver disease, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression, psychiatric problems, epilepsy, skin conditions, obesity, alcoholism, recurrent pancreatitis, lymphoma, arthritis, and many others. Even more importantly, these problems are not just 'associated' with celiac disease, but they nearly all show IMPROVEMENT with a gluten free diet.

Despite thousands of studies and dozens of awareness groups promoting testing and diagnosis of Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac, it is still just being missed entirely by most doctors. And desperate patients who take matters into their own hands and feel better on a gluten free diet are often simply ignored, scorned or worse by their clinicians. Hopefully the future will bring more education to doctors who are still so obviously unaware of the devastating effects of this disease and the lasting positive effects that a simple gluten free diet can bring.

Author's Bio: 

Kerri Knox, RN is a Registered Nurse and Functional Medicine Practitioner.

With over 14 years of experience in health care, she has the unique perspective of being solidly grounded in Conventional Medicine and being well versed in Alternative Medicine.

She can help you to to find and repair the UNDERLYING CAUSES of illness using cutting edge in home lab testing that finds nutritional deficiencies, hidden infections and chemical and metal toxicities that contribute to ill health.

She has a private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area, but works primarily by Telephone Consultation so that she can help you wherever you happen to live in the US. She can be reached through her website at:


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