Going gluten-free is a smart lifestyle decision that can make an immense difference in your health and overall well-being. After all, gluten – a type of protein predominantly present in barley, rye, spelt, wheat and hybrid grains – has been linked to more than 55 ailments and disorders. Of these conditions, celiac disease and gluten intolerance are the most rampant, affecting roughly 15 percent of the American population.
According to Mayo Clinic, approximately 80 percent of people decide to embrace a gluten-free life without having been diagnosed with celiac disease. It's crucial to get tested for celiac sprue before you swear off gluten.
9 reasons why you need to be tested for celiac disease:
1. You Have Celiac Disease
The top reason is that you actually have celiac disease.
What is Celiac Disease? It is one of the most unforgiving autoimmune disorders, with 1 in 100 people in the US alone affected and 3 million adults in the US are currently being affected by the disease. The adverse effects often take root as soon as the celiac person starts consuming gluten. Left untreated, this inflammatory reaction can gradually destroy the villi on the walls of the small intestine, reducing your body’s effectiveness to absorb much-needed vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. To add insult to injury, it can also dramatically escalate your risk of developing other serious autoimmune conditions, such as Multiple sclerosis, Psoriasis, ulcer colitis, Rheumatoid arthritis, and even diabetes.
The key is an early diagnosis, which will help you get on a gluten-free diet immediately and manage the condition before irreversible damage is done. However, the sad truth is that 80 percent of celiac Americans go undiagnosed. Could you be one of them? The last thing you want is to suffer unknowingly. That’s why it’s a no-brainer to get tested so you can be certain right from the outset of your gluten-free lifestyle. Lucky for you, celiac disease can be diagnosed from the comfort of your home through the revolutionary imaware™ blood test.
One thing to keep in mind: if you remove gluten from your diet before being tested for celiac disease, your results will be invalid. So you must first get tested. That being said, when you know you are celiac for sure, you’ll have to stick to a lifelong, gluten-free diet. There’s no point of return, unless you want to struggle with these unpleasant symptoms. That means you not only have to eliminate most beer, cereal, pizza, pasta, and bread from your grocery shopping list, but also keep an eye out for anything you take or use for hidden gluten.
2. You Have Celiac Disease Which May Develop Into Other Conditions
Celiac disease opens a floodgate to a series of other devastating conditions. This is particularly true if you’ve not been tested and diagnosed with the condition and therefore you continue to unknowingly consume gluten foods, medications, and so forth. The longer you stay undiagnosed, the more you suffer needlessly, which is an unfortunate situation 3 million Americans go through every day. Think celiac test should wait? Think again. Here are the top conditions you can develop if you live your life with celiac disease undiagnosed:
- Cancers of the small intestine – Undiagnosed celiac patients are at 4x the risk of developing small bowel cancers than those who know they have the disorder. Early detection of celiac disease can help prevent stromal cancer, lymphoma, sarcoma, adenocarcinoma and other carcinoid tumors before they break out.
- Atherosclerotic heart disease – If you’re an undiagnosed celiac, you are twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease, a heart condition that’s typified by nausea, narrowing of arteries, shortness of breath, chest pain, and even a heart attack.
- Lactose intolerance – Suffering from celiac sprue and lactose intolerance is a double whammy. That means you’ll not be able to eat gluten-rich foods and dairy products. Unfortunately, prolonged auto reaction to gluten can destroy cells that produce lactase, an enzyme that’s designed to digest dairy stuff.
- Diseases of the pancreas – Insufficient nutrient supply and long-term inflammation due to celiac disease can damage the bile duct, leading to pancreatic malfunction. Did you know that untreated celiacs are 20x more likely to develop chronic pancreatitis than their diagnosed counterparts?
- Cognitive impairment and neurological complications – Untreated CD has been associated with neurological problems like neuropathy, myopathy, and ataxia. You are also at an increased risk of cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s and several types of dementia.
- Gallbladder issues – If you’re celiac and continue eating gluten, your chances of developing sclerosing cholangitis are very high. You will soon suffer from gallbladder problems, which may eventually spread to the kidneys.
- Anemia – Iron-deficiency is a common result of severe malnutrition. You are urged to get tested before malabsorption turns into fully-fledged iron-deficiency anemia.
This is, by no means, an exhaustive list of conditions that can be caused by untreated celiac disease. Note that it can also lead to numerous other autoimmune disorders, ranging from multiple sclerosis to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
3. You Have a Relative Who Has Been Diagnosed with Celiac Disease
Although the precise cause of celiac disease is not well-known, leading researchers like Dr. Detlef Schuppan, MD, Ph.D. believe genetics is one of the biggest risk factors. In other words, if the celiac disease runs in your family, the odds are significantly higher that you’ll develop the condition too. So, don’t wait any longer. If you have a relative who is a diagnosed celiac, getting tested immediately is your best shot.
Word of caution: while susceptibility to the disorder can be inherited, you cannot inherit the disease itself.
Still, you must undergo thorough testing early in life. This way, you can put your mind to rest. More importantly, if you doctors discover that you are celiac, you can easily embrace a gluten-free diet and commit to it fully.
4. You’ve Been Having Trouble Getting Pregnant
Celiac women have raised rates of infertility. Not just that – they are also at a greater risk of miscarriage than healthy women without celiac disease. Comprehensive research seems to suggest that the autoimmune response triggered by the presence of gluten is the major culprit. Prolonged inflammation not only denies the growing fetus necessary nutrients but can also damage the womb, inducing a miscarriage. When you get tested, your OBGYN can recommend the best treatment course, which includes a 100% gluten-free lifestyle.
In a 2014 study, scientists found that women with celiac disease are 5x more likely to develop unexplained infertility and 5.82x to experience recurrent miscarriage. Another 2001 study showed that diagnosis and following a strict diet devoid of gluten can reduce miscarriage rates and improve fertility amongst celiac women. Get tested for celiac disease today.
5. You’ve experienced an Inexplicable Weight Loss
Unexplained weight loss is one of the leading signs and symptoms of celiac disease.
Extensive damage to villi and small bowel wall can result in extreme malabsorption. This limits your gut’s capacity to absorb necessary vitamins, minerals, and other vital micronutrients. Emaciation and malnutrition are surefire to lead to drastic weight loss. Unfortunately, depression, diabetes, cancers, anemia, thyroid problems, and a host of other nutrition-related conditions can contribute to unexplained weight loss.
Don’t forget that gluten-rich foods like oats, wheat, rye, and other cereals are loaded with dietary fiber, an important element needed for proper digestion. If you skip them without knowing that you are celiac, you can suffer from digestive complications and malnutrition. Funny enough, this may lead to further unhealthy weight loss.
So, how can you be sure celiac disease is to blame for inexplicable weight loss? That’s right — get tested before you go on a gluten-free diet.
6. You’ve Been Feeling Tired for No Reason
Fatigue and a general sense of tiredness are some of the most common symptoms of celiac disease. But it is not the only culprit. Yes, if you have been feeling tired for no reason, you may have celiac disease. However, extensive infection, anxiety, insomnia, thyroid problems, depression, iron-deficiency anemia, an unhealthy diet, and poor exercising could also be to blame. To eliminate guesswork, you need to take a conclusive serology test.
7. You May Suffer from Food Intolerance
There are myriads of food intolerances out there. The trouble is that most of them exhibit similar signs and symptoms as celiac disease. For example, bloating, diarrhea, rashes, fatigue, stomach pain, nausea, and headaches are almost all common across every food intolerance, from caffeine to amines and gluten. The last thing you want is to go on a gluten-free diet thinking you have celiac disease, and yet you suffer from something else. A gluten-free diet, for instance, may not do much for someone with lactose intolerance. It’s only by getting the right diagnosis that you’ll receive the right treatment and thereafter embrace a gluten-free life.
8.Schools Might Only Accommodate Your Dietary Needs If You Show Records of a Celiac Disease Diagnosis
Celiac disease can develop at any age and time, right from when someone starts eating gluten-containing foods. Celiac kids may experience mild symptoms that may go unnoticed. You may dismiss your little one’s tiredness, excessive gas and weight loss as school stress, diet or something else. But it could be celiac disease lurking around the corner. Thankfully, ADA mandates all schools to arrange accommodations for celiac children. Even still, you cannot file a 504 Plan for your child if you don’t have a record of a celiac diagnosis. That’s why you need to have your kid tested first. This will not only help you make the necessary arrangements at home but also convince the school administration.
9. You Deserve to Know How Careful You Should Be When Eating Out
Eating out is a risky affair for people with celiac disease. While the menu might indicate that a meal is gluten-free, cross-contamination can happen during shopping, cooking or serving. You can’t be too careful. The truth of the matter, however, is that a person on a voluntary gluten-free diet may not be as careful about contamination as someone who is a confirmed celiac patient.
Embracing a gluten-free life can have numerous benefits for everyone, regardless of whether you have celiac disease or not. Early diagnosis can make a huge difference for those with celiac disease. But don’t just assume unexplained weight loss, fatigue, infertility, and other symptoms to be celiac disease. You need to get tested before going on a gluten-free diet.
If indeed you have the autoimmune disease, you will get an opportunity to work out the best course of treatment and lifestyle with your doctor and dietician.