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Doctors ignore proper celiac disease diagnosis and care

Lana Bandoim's picture

A recent survey presented at the American College of Gastroenterology's annual meeting sheds a disturbing light on how doctors perceive, diagnose and manage celiac disease in patients. One of the most troubling aspects of the survey is related to the treatment of the disorder. A gluten-free diet is generally accepted as essential after a diagnosis of celiac disease, yet 10 percent of the doctors surveyed do not suggest this diet change to their patients.


The American College of Gastroenterology's annual meeting provided insight into how doctors diagnose and treat celiac disease. The survey revealed that only 20 percent use endoscopic examination as part of the diagnosis process, and 10 percent do not use the gluten-free diet as part of the initial treatment plan. These shocking findings expose that some patients may not be receiving proper care because their physicians refuse to follow the standard guidelines. In addition, most doctors are familiar with the classic symptoms of the disease, but may not be aware of some of the other indicators such as anemia that have become common in recent years.

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Although portions of the survey disclose disturbing trends among doctors, there are some positive aspects. General knowledge about celiac disease and gluten-free diets is increasing among the public and medical community. The doctors included in the survey shared that 65 percent of them had celiac disease as a subject in medical school, and 70 percent admitted to learning more once they started practicing medicine. Despite the availability of continuing education courses on the subject, only 29 percent have bothered to take them. The fight for awareness is not over, and doctors admitted that they sometimes overlook symptoms in patients who are considered high-risk. Often, patients must become their own advocates to receive the level of care that is necessary for their health.

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