May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month. This is probably not the first time you have heard that and it certainly won’t be the last, not if I can help it. Some quick facts about Celiac Disease:
- 1 in 133 people in the US actually have Celiac Disease
- 97% of those people are undiagnosed
- Celiac Disease is not an allergy – it is an auto-immune disease
I bet you may be wondering what you can do to help with awareness. Well, I am going to talk about several things right now. Do you have Facebook, Twitter, an email account? If so, utilize them. You don’t have to have a blog to spread the news. First and foremost, educate your family & friends. If they don’t understand what Celiac Disease is or what the ramifications of eating gluten are, when you need to be on a gluten-free diet, tell them. Words not working? Send email, mail, flyers. Since Celiac Disease is genetic, your condition came from someone, right? Make sure that your family members get tested. Arm them with the knowledge that they will need to speak with their doctor, who may or may not be well versed in Celiac Disease. Share the consequences of not being diagnosed/treated or not following the gluten-free diet. Some of those consequences may include:
- vitamin deficiencies
- short stature
- miscarriage and/or infertility
- lactose intolerance
- neurological issues
Is it really worth having someone you love sticking their head in the sand? That being said, you can’t make someone do something they don’t want to do. However, that doesn’t mean you have to drop the subject completely.
Part of what makes Celiac Disease hard to diagnose is not everyone experiences the same symptoms. Some peoples’ symptoms may be intestinal, some neurological and some may even be asymptomatic, only being diagnosed after a family member has been diagnosed. As you know, the initial screening is a simple blood test. If you know someone who has health issues that have gone undiagnosed or are continuing to get worse, it may be worth looking into Celiac Disease. The NFCA has a symptom checklist right on their website. Simply go through it and print it to bring along to the doctor for help in explaining the need to be tested.
There are several different companies that have launched special campaigns for Celiac Disease Awareness month. Check them out below:
- 1in133 – The Gluten-Free Food Labeling Summit that will be taking place on May 4, 2011 in Washington, DC
- Mambo Sprouts – Many of the brands they support & offer coupons for are running contests for great prizes!
- Celiac Central is spotlighting a different gluten-free blogger daily during the month of May.
- NFCA – National Foundation for Celiac Awareness – Many different events will be going on during the month of May.
- Rudi’s Gluten-Free – Hosting a recipe contest that runs through May 20, 2011
For more information on Celiac Disease, symptoms, testing, etc, please visit the NFCA (National Foundation for Celiac Awareness). What are you doing to help spread the word?