Seniors at Greater Risk for this Disease

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Many people suffer from an allergy to gluten without even realizing it. Symptoms can be similar to other conditions and the real cause may go unnoticed. In the medical community, those with a gluten allergy are said to have celiac disease. People with celiac disease must eat foods that do not contain gluten in order to prevent feeling ill. In some rare cases, celiac disease that goes untreated can be fatal. However, most cases of celiac disease are diagnosed long before this and treatment is started before the disease progresses too far.

What are the typical symptoms in those who are allergic to gluten? Celiac disease is often hard to diagnose, because the symptoms are similar to those of irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, and anemia. In fact, the average time it takes for a person to be diagnosed with celiac disease is 11 years! When you have a gluten allergy, you may experience any of the following:

–Weight loss
–Nutritional deficiencies
–Muscle cramps
–Joint and/or bone pain
–Skin rash

It seems the disease is now on the rise among elderly Americans. Researchers from the United States and Italy uncovered evidence that overall incidence rates of the disease have been doubling every 15 years since 1974.

For the study, the research team took blood samples from more than 3,500 adults. They found that the ratio of people who had blood markers for the disease rose continuously from one in every 501 individuals in 1974 to one in 219 by 1989.

The researchers also found that, as study participants grew older, the rate of disease went up, too. The study suggests that celiac disease appears to be two-and-a-half times more common among the elderly than the general population. This contradicts a previously widely held belief that gluten intolerance usually takes place during childhood, the researchers noted.

Based on their findings, the researchers urge doctors to be on the lookout for signs of the disease among elderly patients.

It’s not clear what causes a person to develop the disease. Genetics seem to play a role, as some people are born with it. But, others without a genetic predisposition can develop gluten intolerance. Environmental factors are also thought to contribute to the onset of the disease, although the medical community doesn’t yet know why this link exists.

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