Melanie had been feeling out of sorts for years. No matter how well she slept, she was often fatigued. She had frequent headaches. She had diarrhea so often, she figured it was just how her body worked. She wryly said that she knew where every bathroom in town was located.
Although an upbeat person by nature, it was hard for her to be happy when she felt bad so often. Nonetheless, some days were better than others. She was determined not to let how she felt physically get her down.
Mel had been going to doctors for years to try to get an answer. Diagnoses included irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), migraine, lactose intolerance, anxiety and depression. Interventions helped her live with the symptoms but didn’t offer a cure. Then one day a friend suggested to her that just maybe she had celiac disease.
“What’s that?” she wondered. So, she started searching the web. Once she landed on the site of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, she was both relieved and concerned. Yes, she could check off almost every symptom. Finally. Maybe she had an answer. But the “cure” meant a major lifestyle change.
Celiac is an autoimmune disorder that is set off by gluten, a substance found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt. Gluten causes damage to the villi in the small intestine. Those villi help make it possible for the body to digest and absorb the nutrients from food. When damaged, diarrhea and constipation often result. Despite eating well, Melanie’s body was not getting enough nutrition. That explained her fatigue and difficulty maintaining a healthy weight.
Melanie is not alone in her distress from the disorder. One in 133 Americans are thought to be suffering from it. Yes, that’s only about 0.75 percent of the population, but it’s still a substantial number of people. Frankly, if you’re one of those people, you don’t care that you’re in a minority. You just want the symptoms to stop.
It is estimated that over 80 percent of the people who have celiac disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Sadly, it’s been reported that it can take the average person from six to 10 years to get an accurate diagnosis.
It’s important to get a diagnosis. Left untreated, not only is the person miserable, but the disease can lead to osteoporosis, thyroid problems, infertility and even some kinds of cancers.