It’s quite an understatement to say that Celiac disease is a poorly understood disorder. If you are Celiac you know what I am referring to. I am sure that you have experienced first hand the tidal wave of misinformation that is out there. I am also certain that you dread that embarrassing moment when you are forced to give a 15 second explanation of what Celiac disease is. In fact, you dread the response that follows the explanation even more, when you realize that you might as well be speaking in Klingon because they just don’t get what you are talking about. It is beyond frustrating.
Well, it is nearly impossible to educate anyone on an autoimmune disease in the time that it takes a TV commercial to air. In fact, they are probably going to leave you half way through your speech and go to the bathroom, but there are some facts that might come handy if you are lucky enough to run into someone who will actually care to listen.
Next time, just remember to exercise zen. Smile. Profess your love of rice and just move on. The irony is that with so many people being misdiagnosed, you might be talking to a fellow celiac after all.
- An estimated 1 in 133 Americans, or about 1% of the population, has Celiac Disease and most of CD sufferers remain undiagnosed well into adulthood. Furthermore, it is estimated that 83% of Americans who have Celiac Disease are misdiagnosed with other conditions. It is calculated that the average person waits between 6 to 10 years of incorrect medical attention to be suitably diagnosed.
- Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. CD patients come from every socioeconomic stratum, as this disease affects men and women across all ages and races.
- Between 5 and 22% of celiac patients have an immediate family member (1st degree relative) who also has CD. Untreated Celiac Disease can lead to a number of other disorders including infertility, reduced bone density, neurological disorders, some cancers and other autoimmune diseases.
- The financial burden of the disease over a four-year period per patient can be very considerable: between $4,019 and $14,191 (Source: Long et al, 2010).
- There are NO pharmaceutical cures for celiac disease and a 100% gluten-free diet is the only existing treatment for CD today. It is essential that patients retain a hopeful attitude in order to create a gluten-free lifestyle for themselves and their affected family members.
- As research and new treatment options remain the number one goal, CD diagnosis rate may reach 50-60% by 2019, thanks to efforts to raise public awareness. (Source: Datamonitor Group, 2009).
- Sales of gluten free foods reached more than $2.6 billion by the end of 2010 and are now expected to exceed more than $5 billion by 2015. A gluten free diet is not necessary or even advisable for individuals NOT suffering from Celiac Disease. (Source: Packaged Facts, 2011).