10 facts about celiac disease that you may not know

10 facts about celiac disease that you may not know

Celiac disease is among the most common autoimmune diseases worldwide, affecting around 1 in 133 Americans (about 1% of the population).

But how much do people really know about celiac disease? And how is it different from food allergies and other sensitivities/intolerances?

In this blog, we explore celiac disease, what it is, and the facts about this condition that you may not know.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that develops over time because of a sensitivity to gluten: a protein found in certain cereals including wheat, rye, and barley, and commonly used in food products such as cereal, bread, and pasta.

When a person with celiac disease eats gluten, this causes the body’s immune system to attack its own tissue, causing damage to the gut lining and preventing the body from adequately absorbing nutrients from food.

If left untreated, it can lead to severe complications, which can negatively impact on a person’s quality of life.

Here are 10 more facts about celiac disease that you need to know…

1. An estimated 1% of the world’s population has celiac disease

This is according to research published in 2018, on the global prevalence of celiac disease.

However, many people who have celiac disease are thought to be undiagnosed, meaning that this figure could be higher.

2. Celiac disease is hereditary

Research into celiac disease has shown that it often runs in families. In fact, those who have a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, child) with the condition have been found to be at greater risk of developing celiac disease.

This makes genetic testing for celiac disease – like the kind offered by AlphaBiolabs – an effective tool for determining the likelihood of developing the condition in the future.

This type of test looks for the presence of the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) DQ2 and DQ8 genes: the most common genes observed in celiac disease patients.

Order a Home Genetic Celiac Disease Test

3. Many people with celiac disease do not know they have the condition

The effects of celiac disease can range from mild to severe, depending on the person.

If symptoms are mild, a person can have celiac disease for a long time without knowing it. The only way to know for sure if you have the condition is to get a test to either confirm or rule out the possibility of celiac disease.

4. Symptoms of celiac disease can start at any age

Celiac disease develops over time and symptoms of the condition can start at any age. It is most common among adults aged between 50 and 70.

Symptoms can include an itchy rash (dermatitis herpetiformis), bloating and flatulence, constipation or hard stools, diarrhea or loose stools, indigestion, nausea and stomach aches.

Everything you need to know about Celiac Disease

5. Celiac disease can sometimes be mistaken for gluten sensitivity or a wheat allergy

Because celiac disease shares symptoms with other food sensitivities and intolerances, it can be easy for the condition to be misdiagnosed.

However, it is important not to confuse celiac disease with other conditions, like gluten sensitivity/intolerance or a wheat allergy.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that requires gluten to be removed from the diet altogether to prevent long-term health complications.

A gluten sensitivity – sometimes called non-celiac gluten sensitivity – or intolerance may cause similar symptoms, but it is not clear how the immune system might be involved; no antibodies are produced, and there is seemingly no damage to the gut lining.

A wheat allergy occurs when the body produces antibodies to the proteins found in wheat, causing a different kind of immune system reaction. In severe cases, it can lead to anaphylaxis.

6. A lifelong gluten-free diet is the only way to treat celiac disease

There is no cure for celiac disease. However, it can be controlled by adhering to a lifelong gluten-free diet.

This means that a person with celiac disease should avoid eating any food products that contain gluten including (but not limited to) bread, pasta, cereals, cookies, and cakes.

It is also important to check food labels, as many foods (particularly processed foods) include additives and flavorings that contain gluten.

7. Undiagnosed celiac disease can lead to health complications over time

Most people with celiac disease can effectively manage the condition by excluding gluten from their diet for the rest of their life.

However, people who have undiagnosed celiac disease, have been misdiagnosed as having a different condition, or who have very few symptoms, may be at risk of developing further problems associated with celiac disease if they unwittingly continue to consume gluten.

Complications can include osteoporosis, lactose intolerance and anemia.

8. Gluten is not solely found in food and drink products

Gluten can also be found in non-food products including cosmetics and certain medications.

This means that if you have celiac disease, it is very important to check labels carefully.

9. Celiac disease has been linked to some cancers

Complications arising from coeliac disease can vary depending on the person.

However, one example of a complication arising from improperly managed or unmanaged celiac disease is a slightly increased risk of cancer.

10. Testing can be used to diagnose celiac disease

Although many people with celiac disease may not even know that they have it, it is possible to confirm or rule out celiac disease with diagnostic tests.

If you are experiencing symptoms that could indicate celiac disease (e.g. bloating, flatulence, stomach pains etc.) you should speak to your physician who will be able to provide guidance on next steps for testing and diagnosis.

This usually includes blood testing for antibodies and, depending on the results of the blood test, a gut biopsy to assess any damage to the gut lining.

However, before undergoing more invasive testing, an at-home genetic test for celiac disease can be a helpful option for determining whether you are at risk of developing celiac disease in the future.

Where can I buy a test for celiac disease?

For just $179, an AlphaBiolabs Genetic Celiac Disease Test can tell you whether you have the genes associated with celiac disease, with only a simple cheek swab DNA sample required.

Our test uses Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) typing to confirm or rule out the potential of developing celiac disease by analysing six DNA markers for the HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 genes.

Simply collect your cheek swab samples at home, return them to our award-winning laboratory, and receive your secure, confidential results via email in 5-7 days.

The test can be performed on anyone of any age, from young children to adults. However, we strongly advise that you speak to your physician before making any decisions regarding dietary changes based on the results of the test.

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