Q. I had acid-reflux surgery because stomach acid was irritating my throat. After the surgery, the correct diagnosis of celiac disease was finally made. Eating wheat caused the acid in my throat.
People often write you about chronic heartburn. They should be told that surgery and drugs aren’t always the answer. If I’d gotten the celiac disease diagnosis sooner, I might have been spared an unnecessary operation.
A. Celiac disease is an inability to tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. The immune reaction to this protein begins to destroy the gut and can cause a wide range of symptoms, from heartburn and migraines to fatigue and osteoporosis.
Celiac disease was once thought to be rare, but more recent research shows that it is far more common, perhaps one in 100 people (Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, Nov. 2005). It runs in families, so relatives of patients should definitely be tested. There are no medications to treat celiac disease, but it can be controlled with a gluten-free diet.
To learn more about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of celiac disease, we offer an hour-long CD of our radio interview with a leading expert, Peter Green, MD.