Thursday, May 15, 2014

Be aware ... or beware

May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month!
Before I was finally diagnosed with celiac disease, I thought I was dying. Among a host of seemingly unrelated symptoms, I was losing weight without trying; I was always tired; I was tethered to the bathroom because of chronic diarrhea; I was bloated and gassy, no matter what I ate. Over a period of many years, I visited several different doctors and was told I had IBS, in one case; that I should take iron supplements, in another case; that I just needed to drink more water; that I was going through menopause and that the symptoms would eventually diminish.

It wasn’t until I became dangerously anemic that a physician finally decided to give me a blood test to check for celiac disease—and Bingo! The blood test came back positive.

My experience is typical. According to, six to ten years is the average time a person waits to be diagnosed with celiac disease. During that time, that person can experience symptoms ranging from constipation to diarrhea, weight loss to weight gain, anemia to skin rashes. And the list goes on and on. Because CD shares symptoms with so many other illnesses, and because it affects everyone differently, the disease is difficult to diagnose.

That’s one reason that May has been designated as Celiac Awareness Month. reports that an estimated 1 in 133 Americans has celiac disease, yet 83% are either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, as I was. If anyone in your family has celiac disease, or if you suffer from unexplained health issues, ask your physician to test you.

For a free Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist, go to and answer the simple questionnaire. The site will give you an idea of what types of symptoms or conditions may be an indication of celiac disease.

The day my doctor told me I had celiac disease, I gained a new lease on life. That diagnosis set me on a path to regaining my health and restoring my lifestyle!