Journey Forth #4 : Some Common Myths about Gluten and Celiac Disease
When I was first starting the process that led to my diagnosis of celiac disease, I heard many things that I found out later either were not true... or the fact that they happened to be true in my case was unusual. So I thought I would write a short post on the most common myths (at least the ones that I have heard) and mention the true facts behind them.
2. Celiac disease is a children's disease – While children are more likely to be diagnosed and diagnosed early, adults have the disorder as well in pretty high numbers. Estimates on undiagnosed adult celiacs range from 1 in 20 to potentially 1 in 6 for simply gluten intolerance. The symptoms tend to be more noticeable and obvious in children and adults tend to have less obvious or more ignorable symptoms... as well as the unfortunate fact that they are also more likely to be wrongly diagnosed. It is estimated that only 5% of celiacs have been diagnosed which makes up about one percent of the American population. Also, this disorder cannot be 'outgrown' and once truly diagnosed... you will have the disease for your entire life. In essence, there is no cure.
3. Celiac disease is the same as a wheat allergy – this really isn't true. While some people with celiac disease also have a wheat allergy (I might be one of those), most do not. Celiac disease is an auto immune disorder and as such the body responds differently than it does to an allergy. While both are dangerous and not problems to take lightly, they are not the same. Those with a wheat allergy can still eat barley and rye, while those with the celiac disease cannot.
5. People who suffer from Celiac disease are skinny - Hmm, mostly not true. Yes there are a small percentage of people who are too slender due to the symptoms of eating gluten and the damage that it causes to the patient. However, around 40% of people who are diagnosed with celiac are overweight at initial diagnosis. Less than five percent of patients are underweight. So, not only is a person's weight not necessarily a good indicator for diagnosis, it may actually help convince people that they do not have celiac disease simply because of their extra weight... not a credible diagnostic tool.
So... do you have any thoughts on these myths? Know of one that I missed? What are your thoughts?