It's been said that, on average, it takes an adult with Celiac Disease 11 years to get a correct diagnosis
It's been said that, on average, it takes an adult with Celiac Disease 11 years to get a correct diagnosis. Just think: that's over a decade of needless suffering that affects one's quality of life each and every day. It usually means countless doctors visits to different specialists who will not have the answer -- and may even convince the patient that their symptoms are stress related or "all in their head." It means symptoms that can range from a minor nuisance to debilitating. It can even mean a compromised social life or work life, if symptoms are severe.
Many, many times, it's the person suffering symptoms that takes matters into their own hands and, through research (mostly online), stumbles upon information about Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity. Their eyes are opened, and they visit a gastroenterologist armed with this new information and self-discovery.
Have We Just Been Ignorant, or Is This a "New" Disease?
One reason that Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity have been off doctors' radars was because the condition WAS quite rare. In fact, a recent study using preserved blood samples from Air Force recruits in the early 1950s showed the incidence of Celiac Disease has grown over four-fold since then.1
So it's been BOTH an awareness issue -- AND a factor of the condition itself becoming so much more prevalent recently -- that has led us to where we are today...a nation with 3 million people needlessly suffering from a devastating condition that can be 100% reversed with a simple diet eliminating gluten.
Thankfully, with awareness increasing, and more gastroenterologists and other doctors realizing that these are no longer rare conditions, they have learned what to look for -- and how Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity can manifest themselves. There is an exhaustive list of symptoms, and gluten affects every individual differently, but there are some telltale signs to look for:
Unexplained Weight Loss
Unexplained Weight Gain
You've probably noticed two things when scanning this list: 1.) Many of these symptoms have nothing at all to do with the digestive system and 2.) Many of these symptoms are very common -- and could be indicative of many different diseases or health conditions.
You are right, and therein lies another key problem in getting the remaining 80-90% of Celiacs correctly diagnosed. Too often, the patient or doctor (or both) will not suspect a digestive disorder for, say, something like migraines or an unexplained skin rash. Other, more obvious, causes might be explored, or prescription drugs may be prescribed to deal with the problem. But meanwhile, they do nothing to determine or treat the root cause, because it can be so elusive.The problem is, even if the symptoms are somehow masked with drugs or other treatments, the patient's intestines continue to be severely compromised. At best, mal-absorption results. At worst, undiagnosed Celiacs have an increased risk of numerous health problems, gastrointestinal cancer, and premature death.