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Mirka, 34, went to the doctor because of a headache and was diagnosed with celiac disease “completely from the buttocks” – in this way, a disease to which a third of Finns are susceptible can be symptomatic – Health

According to the Celiac Association, up to half of the cases of celiac disease have not been found. Personally, I couldn’t suspect the disease when I sought medical attention for a headache.

About six years ago, I got a phone call from my doctor. High levels of celiac antibodies had been found in the blood test. According to the doctor, I had celiac disease, and he directed me to endoscopy in order to ensure the matter of the small intestine.

The announcement came completely to me from the bush. I had not been able to suspect celiac disease myself when I had sought an occupational health doctor due to fatigue and headaches. After all, my stomach wasn’t even sore or confused!

Expert physician of the Celiac Association, Doctor of Medicine Cloud Laurikka tells you immediately that celiac disease can be symptomatic in a number of different ways in addition to stomach upset.

– There is no single specific symptom that could confirm that it is celiac disease.

According to him, mild, vague abdominal symptoms are typical symptoms of celiac disease, but less than half of diagnoses are made purely on the basis of abdominal symptoms. In addition, completely asymptomatic cases are known. Many others with celiac disease have been diagnosed by surprise.

Small, vague ailments

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In addition to stomach upset, the most common symptoms of celiac disease are anemia, weight loss, and delayed growth or adolescence in children. Celiac disease has also been found in the background of depression, infertility and osteoporosis. Celiac disease can also be symptomatic as a vesicular rash, in which case skin celiac disease is referred to.

The symptoms are not always so clear, a celiac disease nutritionist Sanna Arnala recalls and states that the symptoms can also be very mild, in which case a person gets used to small, vague ailments and thinks they are normal.

There is no single specific symptom that could confirm that it is celiac disease.

In hindsight: yes, I had had stomach upsets too. However, I only realized it when I switched to a gluten-free diet. I had suffered from a sensitive stomach for so long that I considered it normal. I thought that my stomach just now is like this and that it is quite common for the stomach to swell every time after eating.

If celiac disease had not been found, I probably would not have understood today to seek help for my stomach aches.

Many Finns fall ill unknowingly

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Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease, wherein the wheat, barley and rye, the gluten protein contained in damage to the villi of the small intestine and cause a systemic inflammatory condition. This in turn causes nutrients to not be properly absorbed, which can cause a person with celiac disease to suffer from various nutrient, trace element and vitamin deficiencies.

About 0.7 per cent of Finns have been diagnosed with celiac disease, but according to research data, as many as two per cent of Finns have celiac disease.

Thus, more than half of the cases of celiac disease are undetected, and many Finns suffer from the disease unknowingly.

As many as 30–40 per cent of Finns carry genes that predispose to celiac disease. In addition to susceptibility, gluten needs to be eaten by a person, ie wheat, barley or rye must end up in the intestine.­

Pilvi Laurikka thinks that this is due to the fact that many people do not know how to suspect celiac disease or get asymptomatic based on the symptoms.

– However, it is important to get a diagnosis, because the lesions in the intestine are just as serious, whether there are symptoms or not.

According to Laurika, doctors already know how to suspect celiac disease and examinations are directed at a very low threshold. The situation has improved considerably, as in the past only the most severely symptomatic cases were diagnosed.

Why did I get sick?

In light of current research data, it is known that the onset of celiac disease is influenced by two factors, the Celiac Disease Association is reported. The person must be susceptible to illness. According to an expert doctor, as many as 30–40 per cent of Finns carry genes that predispose.

In addition to susceptibility, a person must eat gluten, that is, wheat, barley or rye must end up in the intestines. And Niitähän I’ve eaten all my life until I received a definitive diagnosis after arthroscopy.

But even this does not explain why I became ill. One in three Finns is prone to get sick, and almost everyone eats gluten, but only two percent get sick. What makes a person get celiac disease?

– In the light of current research data, it is not known why someone gets sick and another does not, says doctor Pilvi Laurikka.

Celiac disease comes if there is one to come. You can’t influence it yourself.

My family has other herkkävatsaisia, but I’m the only celiac kindred yourself. I wonder if traveling abroad, the many stomachs and tourist diarrhea, and the numerous courses of antibiotics I ate as a child may be behind the onset of celiac disease.

According to Laurika, the role of environmental factors and various viral infections in the development of the disease has been studied, but it is not yet known what causes the onset of celiac disease.

Sanna Arnala also comforts me:

– Celiac disease will come if there is to come. You can’t influence it yourself, and it’s pointless to blame yourself.

A gluten-free diet is the only treatment

Over the years, I’ve learned to live with my illness. Celiac disease is in good care balance and I can live without symptoms. However, it requires constant vigilance and your eyes and ears being awkward.

Celiac disease is treated with a gluten-free diet. Medication does not yet exist.

Even a small amount of gluten causes destruction in the gut. Therefore, it is important that the disease is treated well.

Gluten-free products are well available today. Challenges arise mainly when visiting, abroad, or eating out, as many places do not always understand how seriously the illness must be taken and do not know how to take celiac disease into account.

In addition, gluten-free products are more expensive. Celiacs under the age of 16 can apply for disability benefits from Kela.

– It is possible to receive Kela compensation for the treatment of many other diseases, but adult celiacs have to pay for more expensive products from their own purses, says Arnala, a nutrition therapist at the Celiac Association.

Do you suspect you have celiac disease? Seek medical attention if

  • you suffer from vague symptoms that have not been diagnosed

  • you have celiac disease in your family

  • you know you are prone to celiac disease

However, do not start a gluten-free diet on your own before celiac tests, it may interfere with making a diagnosis, the Celiac Association is reminded.

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