Recently, when former Miss Universe Harnaaz Sandhu got trolled by netizens for her weight gain, she spoke about her struggle with celiac disease. She said that “I am one of those individuals who was first bullied that ‘she’s too skinny and now they bully me saying ‘she’s fat’
There is limited awareness about celiac disease in India, and patients continue to suffer from mental harassment.
Celiac disease patients have serious intolerance to gluten, and intake of gluten in any form causes various gastric symptoms and affects their quality of life negatively. This includes foods like wheat, barley and other gluten products.
To raise awareness of celiac disease among the masses, the Month of May is declared as a world celiac awareness month.
Let us begin with understanding what is celiac disease and how we support patients suffering from it.
What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease was first diagnosed by Dr. Samuel Gee in the year 1888. It is an autoimmune disorder that affects your ability to digest gluten severely. Gluten is a protein that is mainly present in wheat, rye, barley, and many other food products. When a patient with celiac disease consumes gluten, it causes the destruction of the small intestine villi and causes various gastric symptoms. It also affects the ability to absorb the nutrients in the long run.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for celiac disease so far, however, the disease can be managed effectively by following a gluten-free diet, medication and with the help of regular medical supervision.
What are the symptoms of celiac disease?
The symptoms of celiac disease range from mild to serious.
In general, it causes various gastric symptoms like:
- Gastric pain
- Vomiting etc.
When left untreated for a longer time, it could cause malnutrition, anemia and infertility. In children, celiac disease causes delayed growth and late onset of puberty. In rare cases, celiac disease may cause cancer as a serious complication.
What is the incidence of celiac disease in India?
There is limited data available for celiac disease in India. Most of the cases (90-95%) of celiac disease remain undiagnosed for a long time. As per a recent study among school children in Punjab, 1 in 310 children suffer from celiac disease. Genetic factors and regional influence are other factors that affect the prevalence of celiac disease. It has been observed that siblings (22%) and first-degree relatives (8-2%) have higher chances of developing celiac disease if it runs in the family.
What is world celiac awareness day? And what is its significance?
May 16 is world celiac disease awareness day and May is the celiac disease awareness month.
This year, celiac disease organizations across the world have joined together and decided to light up landmarks across the world to raise awareness about the disease condition. Celiac disease foundation hosted various events and campaigns like fundraising, and Instagram giveaways to make this initiative a grand success.
How can you support the cause and celiac disease awareness month initiatives from your side?
Here are some easy ways to support this initiative from your side and raise awareness.
- Be vocal about the disease condition: talking about it and helping people to understand this disease condition can be an important step to support the cause. Lack of information is one of the common causes of delayed or missed diagnosis of celiac disease. Thus, educating people about this disease condition can help a lot in increasing awareness.
- Utilize the power of social media platforms: social media platforms are one of the best ways to spread awareness and support the cause. You can use images, graphics or videos from reputed sources about celiac diseases and can share them on your social media platforms to raise awareness.
- Offer gluten-free goodies: If your friend or colleague or neighbors have celiac disease, you can surprise them with gluten-free goodies on this day. This sweet gesture is a simple way to make them happy on this day. Did you know millets are naturally gluten free? Buy millet based snacks or cook millet meal for your friends with celiac disease.
In conclusion, celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disease and its incidence is increasing rapidly across the world. Early diagnosis is key to avoiding complications. Thus, as responsible citizen, it is our responsibility to support the cause and make world celiac day and world celiac awareness month a success. One small contribution from our side can make a huge difference in the lives of many others.