May is National Celiac Awareness Month – Spread the Word

With 1 in 133 people estimated to have Celiac Disease (CD) and 97% of those walking around undiagnosed, I can’t think of a better awareness month to be celebrating (I know there are many other serious diseases out there and I am not trivializing them by any means; I am referring to the high number of people affected by this disease).  The symptoms of undiagnosed CD drastically alter one’s quality of life and the effects of untreated cases are even worse (see below).  Every additional person that can identify the symptoms of CD and help others to seek diagnosis and treatment will have a great impact. 

1)      Know the symptoms of CD/gluten intolerance.  Your knowledge can be the difference between a friend or family member seeking treatment or continuing to suffer

2)      Know the serious side effects that can result from undiagnosed CD.  Knowing the health consequences of continued gluten consumption is often what spurs sufferers to seek treatment.

3)      Spread the word…share the statistics, signs and symptoms on your Facebook page, in a mass email to friends and family or while talking to colleagues at your child’s soccer game.  In addition to what I’ve provided below, you can find more detailed information at and


CD can rear its head at any time in a person’s life.  However, it is often triggered from a period of severe stress, after having surgery, going through pregnancy/childbirth or contracting a viral infection.  The symptoms vary greatly from person to person, however the most common include:


  • Growth failure
  • Vomiting
  • Bloated/distended abdomen
  • Changes in behavior


  • Bloating, gas, abdominal pain
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation or both
  • Unexplained weight loss/gain
  • Pale, foul-smelling stool
  • Anemia
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Behavior changes/depression/irritability
  • Vitamin K deficiency
  • Fatigue/lethargy
  • Delayed growth or onset of puberty
  • Missed menstrual periods
  • Infertility, both male and female
  • Canker sores in the mouth
  • Tooth discoloration or loss of enamel

Long-term effects of untreated CD

When left untreated, CD can have serious long-term effects on your health, including:

  • Iron-deficiency anemia
  • Osteoporosis/osteopenia
  • Vitamin K deficiency, with risk for hemorrhaging
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Central and peripheral nervous system disorders – usually due to unsuspected nutrient deficiencies
  • Pancreatic insufficiency
  • Intestinal lymphomas and other GI cancers
  • Neurological conditions
  • Gall bladder malfunction

Other autoimmune disorders associated with CD:

While not true for all cases, the following disorders can and often go hand-in-hand with CD:

  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH)
  • Insulin-dependent Type I Diabetes
  • Thyroid disease
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Liver diseases

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