Friday, October 31, 2014

What's So Bad About Celiac Disease?

What's So Bad about Celiac Disease?

To the (woefully) uninformed, Celiac Disease is an eating disorder, fad or a way to drop a few pounds.  For those of us who have it, however, it can mean years of misdiagnosis and pain.


Have you ever had a version of this conversation in a restaurant?
You: Does this entree have gluten?
Server: I don't know. Does it matter?
You: Well, yes. Can you check with the chef?
Server: I'm pretty sure it's gluten-free.
You: Well, can you make sure, please?
Server: I guess. What's the worst that can happen? Aren't you just allergic? Can't you just take a Benadryl?

Just an allergy. We Celiacs love that. And malignant melanoma is just a skin condition.

But, going back - our brilliant server asked what was the worst that could happen. Well, here's a list, Buddy:
  • abdominal pain 
  • diarrhea, sometimes debilitating 
  • embarrassing gas 
  • painful mouth sores and skin rashes 
  • incapacitating fatigue 
  • bone and/or joint pain 
  • headaches, sometimes migraine 
  • "brain fog" 
  • depression and/or anxiety 
  • tingling and/or numbness of the extremities 
  • seizures 
  • missed menstrual periods 
  • mood changes 

If Celiac Disease is undiagnosed, or if one continues to ingest gluten after diagnosis (even just a tiny little bit) the consequences can be serious. Long-term, CD patients may have certain cancers in their future, such as Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and small intestine cancers. Celiac Disease can leave patients susceptible to certain conditions, such as: osteopenia/osteoporosis; dental issues, like enamel and structure defects; infertility and/or miscarriage; birth defects; anemia; failure to thrive (children.)

People who have Celiac Disease have higher rates of other autoimmune disorders, especially: Thyroid disease
  • Type 1 Diabetes 
  • Lupus 
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis 
  • Sjogren's syndrome 
  • Psoriasis 
So obviously, there's nothing here that a Benadryl is going to fix. People with Celiac Disease have to be diligent about what goes in their mouths, especially when dealing with the under-informed public. I'm sure you know your body, and your CD, better than anyone. If you don't feel like you can trust a restaurant, don't eat there! You don't have to make a scene, but a follow-up phone call may go a long way to helping that place get with the program in the future.

Interested in learning more about Celiac Disease and what it does to you, physically and mentally? Check out these articles:
Allergic Living: Celiac Disease's Toll on Your Teeth 
NFCA: Celiac Disease Related Conditions
Celiac.com: Malignancies in Celiac
Celiac Disease Foundation: "Brain Fog" 
NIH: Celiac Disease and Reproductive Problems

Just for fun: What's the most ridiculous thing you've heard when ordering at a restaurant, regarding your desire for Gluten-Free food? Comment below and we can all roll our eyes together. :)