May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month

CCA Kelowna Chapter News Release

Canadian Celiac Association LogoCeliac disease is an auto-immune disease in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. As a result, the body is unable to absorb nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals, which are necessary for good health. An estimated 1% of Canadians are affected by celiac disease, and a stunning 90% of these cases remain undiagnosed.

Symptoms of celiac disease can range from gastrointestinal distress to migraines to extremely itchy skin rashes, or there may be no overt symptoms at all. For celiacs to continue to ingest gluten puts them at risk of serious associated medical conditions – such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, infertility and type 1 diabetes.

Celiac Awareness Month is an opportunity to emphasise the importance of diagnosis and treatment of celiac disease.   People suffering from symptoms which may indicate celiac disease, or who have been diagnosed with irritable bowel disease, should ask their doctor to consider testing for celiac disease.  Those who have family members who have been diagnosed with celiac disease should also request a test.

While a simple blood test may indicate celiac disease, the only definitive test for celiac disease is a biopsy of the small bowel.  It is imperative that a gluten-free diet is not started until the biopsy takes place.

For more information please contact:

Moyra Baxter, Awareness Coordinator   250.767.6153    moyrabaxter@shaw.ca

Irene Thompson, Chapter President       250.832.7738    rithomp@telus.net