As celiac disease becomes an increasing issue, there are still some in the medical profession that don’t understand this disease. It is noted that many cases of celiac disease are improperly diagnosed as lactose intolerance or simply irritable bowel syndrome. When I was struggling with the symptoms that accompany celiac disease I went to my local walk-in clinic in horrible pain. I told the doctor my symptoms and asked if it might be celiac disease, and what test I would need to take to find out. She asked me why I though it was celiac and I told her that my dad had had it. Without any hesitation she responded saying it was most-likely not celiac disease because it’s not hereditary, and that symptoms don’t just appear out of nowhere… both of which are incorrect. I was baffled at this response. She then told me that what I had was most likely stomach flu, despite me telling her that I’d had these symptoms for almost a month now.
Eventually I was able to make an appointment with my family doctor and she confirmed that it was likely celiac disease since it is hereditary and that the symptoms I had been experiencing were probably extremely mild before, resulting in them going unnoticed. With this I was given a requisition for a blood test which came back positive for celiac disease – no need to have an endoscopy.
When I saw the results I was relieved, yet disappointed – not in the sense of having celiac disease, but disappointed that it took a second doctor’s opinion to come to this conclusion for such a seemingly simple diagnosis. In my mind this could have been dealt with a month prior if the first doctor had sent me for a blood test. It made me think back to the fact that many cases of celiac disease get misdiagnosed or go undetected – who else was suffering from these painful gastrointestinal disturbances? Who else was being shooed away with a simple “oh it’s probably stomach flu?”
As I’ve said before, I don’t see this disease disappearing anytime soon – so to have it misdiagnosed and downplayed is concerning. It seems to me that awareness of celiac disease is lacking, and with that the education amongst the medical community. There are many commercials talking about IBS, millions of products for those with lactose intolerance, wide knowledge of lactose intolerance – yet there is very minimal knowledge of celiac disease. With all of this in mind I think it’s time that celiac disease finds its way into the spotlight. Awareness needs to be spread – so let’s help make everyone celiac aware!
May is #CeliacAwarenessMonth