September 13 is also the birthday of Dr. Samual Gee, a pioneer in Celiac Disease research.
Celiac Disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. Essentially the body attacks itself every time a person with Celiac consumes gluten.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. When people with Celiac Disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the finger-like villi of the small intestine. When the villi become damaged, the body is unable to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, which can lead to malnourishment.
As recently as 2000, the average person with Celiac Disease waited 11 years for a correct diagnosis. Celiac Disease can be difficult to diagnose because it can present in a variety of different ways. The only treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet.
Half of all people with Celiac Disease do not show symptoms of the disease.
One in 133 Americans have Celiac Disease.
An estimated 3 million Americans across all races, ages and genders suffer from Celiac.
Delay in the diagnosis of Celiac Disease can result in damage to the small intestine, which leads to an increased risk for malnutrition, anemia, lymphoma, adenocarcinoma, osteoporosis, miscarriage, congenital malformation, short stature, and disorders of the skin and other organs.
Celiac Disease is linked to many autoimmune disorders, including thyroid disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, type 1 diabetes, liver disease, collagen vascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren's syndrome.
The burden of the disease over a four-year period per patient:
- Females: $4,019
- Males: $14,191
Gluten-free sales reached more than $2.6 billion by the end of 2010 and are now expected to exceed more than $5 billion by 2015.
To find out more about Celiac Disease and see if you might have it, visit the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.