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Celiac Disease Health Center

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Learning to Live With Celiac Disease

You may not know you have it, but celiac disease can rob the body of nutrients it needs to thrive.

Should You Get Tested? continued...

In fact, a recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that screening people with osteoporosis for celiac disease may help improve treatment and reduce the risks associated with fragile bones.

In the new study of 266 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis and 574 women without osteoporosis, nearly 4.5% of the women with osteoporosis tested positive for celiac disease; only 1% of the women without osteoporosis tested positive with blood tests. What's more, follow-up intestinal biopsies confirmed celiac disease in 3.4% of women with osteoporosis and only 0.2% of women without osteoporosis. And the more severe the celiac disease, the more severe the osteoporosis, the study showed.

Onus Is on You

If your doctor doesn't bring celiac disease up, it's up to you. LaPook suggests patients tell their doctors, "I was reading that it turns out thinking about celiac disease has changed in the last 30 years and the symptoms can be more subtle; I am wondering if I may have it. I hear it's a simple blood test to do a screen for it."

"If they have one of a host of autoimmune conditions such as type 1 diabetes, Sjogren's syndrome ... they should raise the question of this diagnosis with their doctor. And the only way to really demonstrate that you don't have it is to test for it," Green says.

Celiac disease often occurs in people with other autoimmune diseases. In fact, 8% to 10% of people with type 1 diabetes also have celiac disease, he says.

Kids With Celiac Disease

"It's a good diagnosis to get because you can get better just by hanging your hat on it. And there are no side effects to changing your diet," Green says - unless you are a kid.

"It's such an easy treatment, but if you are a kid and suddenly you can't have pizza or hot dog buns or hamburger buns, it's a big deal because there is nothing a kid wants more than to be like his peers," LaPook says.

That's where creative nutritionists like Dana Greene, MS, RD, a nutritionist in private practice in Boston, come in. Greene says living a gluten-free life just takes some adjustment. "It requires some lifestyle changes," she tells WebMD. The first step is learning to read labels and identify culprits that that may contain hidden gluten. "Hidden gluten can be found in unlikely foods such as cold cuts, soups, hard candies, soy sauce, many low or nonfat products, even licorice and jelly beans," she says.

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