The First Step: Diagnosis

When I was first struck with the stomach pain, unexplained weightloss and iron deficiency anemia that accompany CD, I waited several months for the problems to go away before consulting a doctor. If I had been aware of the damage I was causing my body stubbornly waiting for it to pass, I never would have had to suffer for that long.

Because CD is not well known and has a wide range of symptoms, diagnosis can sometimes be tricky. But once you've figured out that it may be the culprit all it takes is a few accurate blood tests and possibly an endoscopic biopsy. It's also easy to tell you might have CD simply by taking gluten out of your diet for a period of time to see if the symptoms clear. However, it is still important to get a definitive diagnosis from a physician, if only to make sure you actually have CD and not a gluten intolerance, which is not as harmful to the body.

“I never felt 100% well, and after finding out I had numerous food allergies and talking with my sister who also thinks she is a celiac I decided to visit a gastroenterologist," said recently diagnosed Celiac patient Jennifer Deluca of Gainesville, Fla. "He wanted to diagnose me with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), but I insisted on having the blood test for gluten intolerance. My results were 20 times out of range.”

Deluca, 27, said it took her whole life to be properly diagnosed. “ I've had a weak stomach since I was an infant, but it became more noticeable in college living with roommates who weren't sick all the time like my family,” she said.

After just four months of being gluten-free, Deluca said her symptoms have all but disappeared.

"I'm even less hungry," she said.

While the GF diet isn't for everyone, it truly is the only option for people with CD, and it's not hard to make the most of it. Deluca believes other members of her family also have CD even though they refuse to be tested. She said they have seen a considerable improvement in the way they feel since adopting a gluten-free diet.

“The best thing about being gluten free is feeling better and experimenting with new food," Deluca said. I probably would have never learned how to make risotto and paella or how good pear cider is. The only downside is that going out to eat is pretty tough. I really miss fried shrimp.”

In the video below, TV personality Elisabeth Hasselbeck discusses CD with her doctor on The View.

If you discover yourself to be suffering from malnutrition, CD may be the culprit. One does not have to have overt symptoms such as abdominal pain or constipation to have CD; in fact, most people do not experience these symptoms. CD is also known to cause hair loss, skin rash, fatigue, canker sores and irritability. These myriad symptoms make the disease that much harder to diagnose, as they seem unrelated on the surface. If you're experiencing any of these, see a doctor.