Why misdiagnosis of celiac disease can be dangerous

Celiac disease is becoming better understood than it was even in recent decades. It’s an autoimmune disease. People who have it should not eat any foods that contain gluten (like wheat, barley and rye) because it causes their body’s immune system to attack their small intestine.

It’s been estimated that some two and a half million people in this country alone are living with undiagnosed celiac disease. If it’s not correctly diagnosed and treated, a person can end up with serious long-term health issues, including multiple sclerosis, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Doctors are more likely to conduct a blood screening that will diagnose celiac disease than they used to be. However, too often, patients with celiac disease are still misdiagnosed with a host of gastrointestinal and other conditions before they finally get a correct diagnosis.

Among the most common misdiagnoses are:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Ulcers
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Colitis
  • Parasitic infection
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Allergies

Some doctors even believe that patients’ symptoms are in their head and suggest seeing a therapist.

Living with undiagnosed celiac disease be extremely painful and debilitating. As we noted, it can also result in other extremely serious conditions. Not all cases of misdiagnosis are due to medical malpractice.

However, if you believe that your doctor could and should have correctly diagnosed you with celiac disease sooner and that failure to correctly diagnose you has caused you harm, you may have grounds for a case. Your best course of action is to discuss your situation with an experienced attorney.


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