January 1, 2009

Beginning in 2008 we have added a new screening test, for all patients new and old, for celiac disease. Here is another great masquerader, which causes almost every sign and symptom in the book. Classic Celiac Disease manifests in early infancy and childhood with diarrhea, muscle wasting, irritability and failure to thrive. The majority of patients, especially adults, have a “silent” presentation. They have minimal to no gastro intestinal symptoms but rather manifestation of complex autoimmune disease and the consequences of chronic malabsorption. Many are in the 40-60 year age range.

Celiac disease’s greatest danger is malabsorption of: vitamins, minerals, proteins and other essential nutrients resulting in fatigue, anemia, osteoporosis, neuropathies (chronic numbness, tingling and pain). This also includes systemic inflammatory and auto immune diseases including Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, Raynauds syndrome, thyroid disease etc. and worst of all, cancer, a complication of the disease. The increase in mortality from cancer in patients having celiac disease is estimated at 9-34 times greater than that of the general population. The predominant celiac associated malignancy is non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma but includes also Thyroid cancers, small bowel cancers and esophageal cancer. Now you can appreciate why we have begun screening for this disorder.

The diagnosis is easily made from a simple blood test, which we have now added to our routine blood work. I am encouraging all of our “old” patients to ask us to screen you when you are in the office for your follow up appointments. Simply going on gluten free diet reverses this disease but you have to know if you have it.

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Posted in Health Alerts