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May is Celiac Awareness Month – Know The Signs

Health Canada recognizes May as Celiac Awareness Month in order to raise awareness of the daily challenges facing Canadians with Celiac disease.

Celiac affects about 1% of the population. It’s one of the most common chronic gastrointestinal disorders, and is the most severe form of gluten intolerance.

A gluten intolerance can develop at any age. While only 1% of the population will develop celiac in their life, up to 13% of people may develop some form of non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Know The Signs

– Chronic fatigue or weakness (low iron levels)
– Gas and bloating
– Diarrhea
– Abdominal pain
– Muscle cramps
– Weight loss

These symptoms are caused by your body’s reaction to gluten (a protein found in wheat and other grains). If you have this disease and eat food with gluten in it, the gluten triggers an immune response that is not normal.

This damages the inside of your small intestine so it cannot properly absorb nutrients from your food.

Diagnosis is completed through various blood tests, and typically an endoscopy where a doctor uses a thin tube to look at the inside of your small intestine.

Risk of not treating a gluten intolerance can lead to anemia and osteoporosis, and can increase your risk of lymphoma.

How to treat it

The only effective treatment for the disease is a gluten-free diet. This requires avoiding all types of wheat, barley, rye, related cereal grains, commercial oats.

Even a small amount of gluten is harmful. This can be challenging for many people as it can involve changing everything about the way they eat. Health Canada ensures food labels include a gluten-free symbol to help people make more informed food choices.

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