Celiac disease is the most common genetic condition in the world, so why don’t most U.S. doctors know much about it? There are many reasons but at present, the most important one is that there is no medication for the condition. If there was, the nightly news commercials would have the entire U.S. population believing that they might have celiac disease.
It is the best interest of pharmaceutical companies for people to not be tested for celiac disease, at least not until one of them has released a medication for the condition. If you’re wondering why big pharmacy companies care if people are tested and diagnosed with celiac, the answer is obvious – money. I’ve personally met people who were once on prescription drugs for the conditions listed below – all of their symptoms being directly related to their undiagnosed, untreated celiac disease - or gluten intolerance. In many cases, patients who adhere to the gluten-free diet are able to stop taking medications for symptoms related to their previously untreated celiac condition. This translates to lower prescription medication sales and less money for companies in that industry. Every loss adds up and the industry does not want to lose 1/10th of 1% of their profits.
- Thyroid Disease (including Hashimoto’s)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Extreme Fatigue
Does everyone who has celiac have these symptoms and/or conditions? Absolutely not. Is your doctor going to suggest any of these things could be related to celiac disease? Unless your doctor is a celiac specialist, the answer is most likely no. Our medical system is set up and run by insurance and drug companies for the most part. It’s hard for doctors to practice good medicine these days and if you don’t understand that, you probably don’t personally know a doctor that practices here. It is a very sad – some would say embarrassing – state that we find ourselves in today in the U.S., regarding health care.
It is well documented that it takes many years for someone to get diagnosed with celiac in the U.S., while in many parts of Europe and in Canada, diagnosis’ come much faster. The NIH started a campaign in 2006 to educate U.S. doctors better about celiac. The agency might be trying their best, but so far they don’t seem to be doing a very impressive job meeting their goals. If we all sit around and wait for the government to get the word out about this condition, we’ll be waiting a very long time.
It’s up to us to help educate others (including uninformed or misinformed doctors) about celiac and gluten intolerance. It is only through knowledge that more people will be living gluten-free, assuming they will benefit from it health wise. They’ll be healthier and we’ll have more – and lower priced – options for gluten-free food. By working together, we’ve already made a difference but we still have a long way to go. Please consider speaking up about your condition, if you usually don’t. You never know who you might help by doing so.