Is it fact or fiction?

Take our challenge and test your knowledge

When it comes to celiac disease, distinguishing real information from misinformation can be difficult. Consider the 10 statements below, for example. Can you tell which are facts and which are fiction?

To test your knowledge, read each statement, choose whether you think it’s fact or fiction, then read the explanation that appears to see if you’re right.

Armed with this information, you’ll be well on your way toward getting a good start in understanding and living well with celiac disease.

1.   Celiac disease is a rare childhood disease. FACTFICTION

Fiction. Celiac disease affects about 1 of every 100 people of all ages in the United States. That’s about 3 million American children and adults. Celiac disease is the most common inherited autoimmune disorder and is far more common than many diseases you may be more familiar with, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, type 1 diabetes, and cystic fibrosis. READ MORE

2.   Testing for celiac disease is easy. FACTFICTION

Fact. Reaching the point where you and your doctor suspect celiac disease may take awhile. For example, a child with celiac disease will visit 8 pediatricians on average before the correct diagnosis is made. In addition, only about 3% of people currently living with celiac disease have been diagnosed. However, once celiac disease is suspected, screening and diagnosis tools are reliable and efficient. Antibody and genetic testing are a good first step and relatively easy for you and your doctor to use. READ MORE

3.   A strict gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease. FACTFICTION

Fact. A gluten-free diet is the only treatment option available. In people with celiac disease, just a bit of gluten is enough to trigger the disease and cause internal damage. That’s why avoiding gluten is so important. READ MORE

4.   Gluten is in most of the foods you eat. FACTFICTION

Fiction. A variety of foods are naturally gluten free. Fresh foods, without any processing or additives, from the fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and meat/meat alternatives food groups are all naturally gluten free. That is five of the six food groups. Foods that are naturally gluten free include nonprocessed meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds, milk, yogurt, cheese, fruits, and vegetables. Gluten is a dietary protein found only in wheat, barley, and rye. Learning how to avoid the foods containing gluten is key to living with celiac disease. READ MORE

5.   People can develop celiac disease well into adulthood. FACTFICTION

Fact. Celiac disease can strike at any age. Some people develop celiac disease as children, others as adults. Some people can eat gluten for 50 years and then develop celiac disease, while others eat gluten for only 9 months before they are diagnosed. This is part of what makes celiac disease diagnosis and management so challenging. READ MORE

6.   Celiac disease is considered a food allergy to wheat. FACTFICTION

Fiction. Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disease like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. Autoimmune means a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks one of the body’s own tissues or cells. When a person who has celiac disease eats gluten—a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley—the individual's immune system responds by attacking the small intestine and inhibiting the absorption of important nutrients into the body. READ MORE

7.   A child with celiac disease can eventually outgrow it. FACTFICTION

Fiction. Celiac disease is a lifelong disease. This is another way that celiac disease differs from food allergies. Children can often outgrow food allergies, but they can’t outgrow celiac disease. READ MORE

8.   People with celiac disease typically have the same symptoms. FACTFICTION

Fiction. Symptoms vary from person to person and even between children and adults. Digestive symptoms are common in children. Adults tend to have symptoms that are not entirely gastrointestinal in nature. READ MORE

9.   Screening is the best way to know for sure if someone has celiac disease. FACTFICTION

Fiction. Screening is only the first step. Screening refers to genetic and antibody tests that can show if required genes are present and if your body has elevated antibodies that are often, but not always, high because of a negative response to gluten. But a procedure called a biopsy is the only way to know for sure if you or your child has celiac disease.

10. Undiagnosed and untreated celiac disease can lead to other disorders. FACTFICTION

Fact. Undiagnosed and untreated celiac disease can lead to the development of other autoimmune disorders as well as osteoporosis, infertility, neurological conditions, and, in rare cases, cancer. READ MORE

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