Doctors find more cases of Celiac Disease

Courtesy of CNN Newspath

More than 2 million people in the U.S. suffer from Celiac Disease, an autoimmune condition in the gastrointestinal tract.

Doctors are finding more and more cases of the illness, and not just in young people.

Here's Susan Hendricks with this KHQA Safe Family Health Report.

Tom Hopper never had a health problem until his sixties. Then, all of a sudden, he began to have serious pains in his gastrointestinal tract.

He said, "The lower extremity cramps would be so severe that at times, I would have to hold myself up by clinging on top of the door in the bathroom. "

Months of tests came up with nothing, until Tom found himself doubled over in pain on a plane to Boston. Once he arrived paramedics took him to the hospital, it was there he found he had Celiac Disease.

Hopper said, "I said that's great...but what is it?"

Celiac is a disease that damages the villi of the small intestine, which keeps nutrients from being absorbed. It can cause great discomfort. Triggered by eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye, Celiac was primarily diagnosed in children. But now, new research shows that it can flare up at any age. It's intriguing, the concept that some individuals, they lose the capability to ingest gluten after a few weeks they are exposed to it, and some people can tolerate it for sixty, seventy years.

If Dr. Alessio Fasano with the University of Maryland can identify why some people develop Celiac later in life, he could eventually develop better ways to treat Celiac in patients of all ages.