Celiac Disease Awareness Month is an event held throughout the world in the month of May and is supported by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (and other relevant organizations).
What is a Celiac disease?
Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease which damages the small intestine. The small intestine is part of the gut which digests & absorbs nutrients from food.
As per the Celiac Disease Foundation , Celiac Disease is a serious auto-immune disease that occurs in genetically predisposed people, where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. Celiac Disease is hereditary, and therefore those with a first-degree relative that has it, have a 1 in 10 chance of having it themselves. Those with other auto-immune disorders are also more likely to develop Celiac Disease.
Though it is genetic, celiac disease can develop anytime in a person’s life after they ingest gluten-containing food or medicine.
Celiac disease is also known as sprue, non-tropical sprue & gluten sensitive enteropathy.
What are the symptoms of celiac disease ?
People with ‘minor celiac disease’ have minor symptoms. These can include a wide range of symptoms such as indigestion, bloating, weight loss, and mild abdominal pain.
People with ‘major celiac disease’ have severe symptoms which can be of great discomfort. These may include ‘minor celiac disease’ symptoms which are more severe, and other symptoms such as stomach cramps, diarrhea and muscle spasms.
Are there events for Celiac Disease Awareness Month?
During May there are many events put on by organizations dedicated to celiac disease awareness. These include 5K and 10K run runs, webinars, in some countries “Ask a Dietician” events on Twitter, and even a Catwalk for Celiac fashion show. Events change yearly.
Which foods should be avoided in celiac disease ?
Avoid foods that contain the following ingredients when observing a gluten-free diet:
- Graham Flour
- Things labeled “seasonings” on ingredient lists. Some may include gluten-containing ingredients such as wheat starch, wheat flour, wheat crumbs and hydrolyzed wheat protein.
How can we help Celiac Disease Awareness Month ?
All of us with or without Celiac Disease need to take part in spreading Celiac Disease awareness, not only to make life of patients easier but to change how our entire culture views the disease. At a grand level, when a society as a whole is aware of a disease it often gets more publicity and becomes a topic of concern.
Dr Harsh Shah
Liver, Pancreas & Cancer specialist Doctor in Ahmedabad, India