Gluten-free foods can be found everywhere from restaurants to grocery stores. Who needs to go gluten-free? For people diagnosed with Celiac disease, adopting a gluten-free diet is no fad. It is a medical treatment.
"As a physician who specializes in pathology, I know that Celiac disease is no longer rare; it strikes one in 100 people from ages two to 80," advises David L. Booker, MD, FCAP, a board-certified pathologist and Chairman of the Pathology Department at Trinity Hospital of Augusta in Augusta, Ga. "If symptoms get progressively worse and are chronic, it's wise to get tested."
The symptoms and signs of Celiac disease can include chronic:
• Abdominal cramps
• Excess gas production
• Growth failure in children
• Decreased fertility in women
Early in the disease, some patients may have no symptoms at all. In fact, 88 percent don't know that they have it. Long-term Celiac disease can lead to osteoporosis or intestinal cancer if left undiagnosed and untreated.
"As a pathologist, I diagnose diseases including cancer and Celiac disease. If you are experiencing chronic symptoms, I recommend that you get screened for Celiac disease. A simple blood test could confirm if you have the disease," adds Dr. Booker. "Blood testing for Celiac disease is sensitive and accurate and can be further confirmed with a biopsy."
Pathologists are physicians who examine cells, tissues, and body fluids to diagnose diseases. They interpret lab tests to help prevent an illness or monitor a chronic health condition. Pathologists are core members of the patient care team, with more than 70 percent of all decisions about diagnosis, treatment, hospital admission, and discharge resting on the pathologist's report. Pathologists can explain test results to patients who are uncertain about what they mean.
"If you suspect that you have Celiac disease, contact your primary care provider to see if you need to be screened. If possible, it is best not to start a gluten-free diet until you are tested, as this change may affect your test results and make the diagnosis more difficult," recommends Dr. Booker.
The College of American Pathologists (CAP) is a medical society serving more than 17,000 physician members and the laboratory community. It is the world's largest association composed exclusively of board-certified pathologists and is widely considered the leader in laboratory quality assurance. The College is an advocate for high-quality and cost-effective patient care. Visit www.cap.org. View video at http://www.cap.org/apps/docs/media/booker_0111.wmv.