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The Celiac Section

Celiac’s Link to Other Health Conditions

Celiac disease is one of a group of conditions classified as autoimmune disorders because the body’s immune system turns on itself. But instead of having a certain set of symptoms, it can manifest itself in a dizzying number of ways.

The problems start because the villi, tiny, finger-like projections in the small intestine that act as guardians into the digestive system’s inner sanctum, do not distinguish between gluten and other nutrients crucial to your health.

The damage is exacerbated because it often takes years for celiac disease to be definitely diagnosed. Happily, in some of the cases, symptoms can be reversed or at least relieved. Some of the more common conditions associated with celiac disease include:

Dermatitis Herpertiformis

Do you have a red, itchy, burning rash on your elbows, knees or buttocks? Or maybe it is on the nape of your neck, your upper back or in your scalp? Dermatitis Herpertiformis, or DH, is often misdiagnosed as herpes, eczema, hives, psoriasis or contact dermatitis.

DH affects about 10 per cent of people with celiac disease, or about one in every 1,000 and tends to occur between the ages of 20 to 45. But it is hard to catch because many sufferers have few or none of the bowel problems normally associated with celiac disease.

In fact, the only way to diagnose DH is through a biopsy from clear skin near the blisters or lesions. If that test proves positive, it is not necessary to confirm the finding though a biopsy on the small intestine, usually the final step before celiac disease is diagnosed. Although an antibiotic is used to relieve the symptoms, the only treatment to stem and reverse the damage being done inside your body is to go on a gluten-free diet.

Infertility

You’re trying to get pregnant but nothing works. Your doctor says everything seems normal and to be patient, or that maybe it is time for you to consider in vitro fertilization and other options.

Stop; before you go there, have you been screened for celiac disease? Although the link between infertility and celiac disease is still under study, a growing body of research supports the view that celiac disease can actually cause infertility.

Next page: Elisabeth Hasselbeck; osteoporosis; neurological symptoms

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