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Diagnostic Process for CD

Diagnostic Process for CD

Since Celiac Disease (CD) has been around since the beginning of the agricultural revolutions thousands of years ago, scientists and doctors have been trying to find a diagnosis and cure for the intolerance for centuries. Since the 1800s, doctors started trying out new types of diets to see whether patients suffering from symptoms like abdominal pain, indigestion, chronic diarrhea, and other side effects of non-treated CD, would feel better by taking out specific foods. British physician and pathologist Matthew Baillie in the 1800s noticed that a rice-based diet was successful in reducing symptoms; American pediatrician Sidney Haas discovered the same in 1924 after placing patients on a banana diet; Dutch pediatrician Willem Karel Dicke was the first to hypothesize that protein found in wheat was the cause of CD in the 1940s when famine due to World War II led to a diet with less bread and carbohydrates resulting in fewer patients with such symptoms. It wasn’t until the 1970s that CD was recognized as an autoimmune disease linked to certain genes.[1]

            There has been an ever-growing interest in and awareness of CD since the seventies leading to more effective ways to diagnose it. Today, estimates say that there are around 2 million people in the United States alone and 1% of the worldwide population have been diagnosed with CD. Since CD is genetic, it is common that children or relatives of those diagnosed also get tested for the disease. A simple blood test should be able to tell the doctors whether the person suffers from CD or not, however, there are many methods, including genetic swab testing, and biopsies of the small intestine. Doctors also screen for CD when the patient has the defined and common symptoms of the gluten allergy such as chronic bloating, nausea, abdominal pain, etc. Those who have type 1 diabetes are also commonly screened for CD as the two diseases have been found to be correlated.[2]

            The diagnosis process can be more difficult for some patients than for others; since CD shows similar symptoms to other digestive issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and lactose intolerance, it can take some time for doctors to a doctor to pinpoint the exact issue. Blood tests may show some irregularities but not enough for a doctor to conclude a CD diagnosis and patients and doctors alike may be unwilling to undertake a biopsy of the small intestine due to different personal or medical reasons. At the end of the day, however, if one is suffering from CD the only thing that will relieve the symptoms is adopting a gluten-free diet, therefore the diagnosis process does not stop until reaching this final conclusion.

 

[1] “History of Celiac Disease | BeyondCeliac.org.” Beyond Celiac, https://www.beyondceliac.org/celiac-disease/celiac-history/. Accessed 3 April 2022.

[2] “Diagnosis of Celiac Disease.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/celiac-disease/diagnosis. Accessed 03 04 2022.

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