They had no idea what was wrong. And often, neither did
The not knowing nearly killed Bruce Kurth.
For others, the symptoms weren't so severe, but often the
condition worsened over time.
Shelli Hanks, a radiation
oncologist with four daughters, thought her migraines,
fatigue and recurring diarrhea were "supermom syndrome."
For Cheryl Wilson, the stomach upset worsened over the years
? she jokes about knowing every rest stop from Tucson to San
Diego ? but it wasn't until her brother was diagnosed that
she first heard of celiac disease.
Also referred to as
celiac sprue, celiac disease occurs when people with a
genetic propensity for the disease eat foods containing
gluten, or the proteins in wheat and some other grains. The
result: inflammation of the lining of the small intestine,
which over time becomes too damaged to absorb food
Some patients also develop an intensely itchy skin
condition called dermatitis herpetiformis.
the Southern Arizona Celiac Support group will host an
informational gathering coupled with a gluten-free food fair
to educate people about the disease. In Celiac disease the
blood tests may show low folate and low iron, low B-12, low
vitamins. High folate may mean low Vitamin B-12.
Wilson said the event is important because it exposes people
to the newest gluten-free products and "brings hope to the
newly diagnosed that this lifelong treatment will not be
People who suspect they might be
gluten-intolerant can learn more about the disorder, she
For these Tucsonans, the diagnosis and treatment
brought relief not only from chronic bouts of diarrhea and
bloating, but in some cases from migraines, anemia, fatigue
solution is to stop eating anything that contains gluten.
Hanks was 40 when she was diagnosed five years ago. About
six weeks later, her daughter, Lindsey, also tested
In the years leading up to her diagnosis,
Hanks thought she might have irritable bowl syndrome.
Eventually, she also developed anemia, and in spite of
supplements, she was always tired.
"My doctor couldn't
figure out why I was so tired," she said. "We thought it was
The testing continued, but nothing
"My favorite one was, 'You're not tired. You're
just depressed,' " she said.
When she was accurately
diagnosed, Hanks was told that one in every 5,000 people is
gluten intolerant. Five years later, it's closer to one in
130, according to researchers.
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