Could Hidden Gluten Sensitivity Be Harming Your Health?

Imagine having an invader slowly destroying your health and having no idea it’s there. For many people, this is a reality as they unknowingly suffer from celiac disease, an autoimmune reaction to gluten. Gluten is a group of proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley, and when consumed by someone with celiac disease, their immune system goes on attack mode, targeting the body’s intestinal lining, brain, nerves, and other organs.

According to research, approximately 1% of the population suffers from celiac disease, but an estimated 1.4 million Americans are unaware because the symptoms can be subtle and significantly varied. A new report from the United European Gastroenterology Journal states there is a strong need for widespread testing for celiac disease, particularly within high-risk groups.

The Dangers of Undiagnosed Celiac Disease

For people who have celiac disease and don’t switch to a gluten-free diet, their life expectancy will be substantially shortened. A study spanning 45 years in Minnesota found that undiagnosed celiac disease increased the risk of dying during the study by four times.

Many individuals living with celiac disease are never diagnosed and therefore continue to suffer from symptoms for years before they get proper treatment. Antonio Gasbarrini from the Gemelli University Hospital in Rome, Italy, says, “We now have blood screening tests that are simple, safe, and accurate, and it is time we started using them effectively to limit the damage caused by this common condition.”

What to Look For

The symptoms of celiac disease can often be vague and easily mistaken for those of irritable bowel syndrome, which highlights the importance of getting tested if you have a persistent physical problem and/or any digestive issues. These are some common symptoms of celiac disease to keep an eye out for:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Skin rashes
  • Joint pain
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Migraines

Who’s at Risk

If you have a close relative who has celiac disease, it’s crucial for you to be tested. Other high-risk groups that should undergo testing are individuals with type 1 diabetes or iron-deficiency anemia, as these conditions are often linked to celiac disease.

Gasbarrini emphasizes the importance of testing by stating, “It is vital… to tackle this prevalent condition and reduce its serious health consequences.” Early detection and intervention have the potential to avert long-term damage and improve overall health and well-being.

Treatment and Improving Your Health

If you do receive a diagnosis of celiac disease, don’t despair. There’s an effective way to treat it: a gluten-free diet. Eliminating gluten from your diet can work wonders for your health, as experienced by many who have seen their symptoms disappear after making this change.

While a gluten-free diet may seem daunting to some, the good news is that there are plenty of alternatives available for most foods. Additionally, many restaurants and grocery stores have begun catering to gluten-free diets to make managing the condition a lot more feasible for those affected.

Education about gluten-free foods and support from experienced healthcare professionals can help guide those with celiac disease to better health quickly. And don’t forget, time and consistency are also important factors in healing the damage caused by gluten.

If you have a nagging suspicion that you might have celiac disease or persisting symptoms suggesting an autoimmune response to gluten, don’t hesitate to seek evaluation and testing. The sooner you diagnose the issue, the sooner you can start living a healthier, happier life.