Myth # 3 Celiac Disease: Celiac Disease is a Rare Childhood Disease.
False. Celiac disease is a disease that affects children and adults. It affects 1 in 133 otherwise healthy people in the U.S. Celiac symptoms are often apparent in children who experience failure to thrive, diarrhea, and retarded growth, but symptoms can manifest for the first time in adults as well. Symptoms that emerge in adulthood may include abdominal pain, bloating, and distention. Gas and diarrhea may be present. People who have celiac disease have impaired nutrient absorption in the small intestine which may lead to anemia, skin rashes, and bone thinning (osteoporosis). It's common for people who have celiac disease to suffer for many years before they receive the correct diagnosis and treatment.
People who have celiac disease must adhere to a strict, life-long gluten-free diet. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Celiac disease patients need to remain on a gluten-free diet even if they are not experiencing symptoms. The reason gluten is dangerous for those with celiac disease is that it triggers an autoimmune reaction that damages the living of the small intestine. If enough damage occurs, it adversely affects the absorption of nutrients. Trace amounts of gluten can be dangerous and cause damage even if overt symptoms are not apparent.