Misdiagnosis of Celiac Disease


The chronic digestive disorder celiac disease is not well known and often overlooked. Instead, it is often misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome or another chronic digestive disease. In cases where the main symptoms are non-digestive symptoms such as anemia and fatigue, the condition might be misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, or other fatigue-causing disorders.

Celiac disease was cited by Reader's Digest as one of the top 10 misdiagnosed diseases. In the article entitled "10 Diseases Doctors Miss", the 10 diseases mentioned were hepatitis C, lupus, celiac disease, hemochromatosis, aneurysm, Lyme disease, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), chlamydia, and sleep apnea. 1

About misdiagnosis: When checking for a misdiagnosis of Celiac Disease or confirming a diagnosis of Celiac Disease, it is useful to consider what other medical conditions might be possible misdiagnoses or other alternative conditions relevant to diagnosis. These alternate diagnoses of Celiac Disease may already have been considered by your doctor or may need to be considered as possible alternative diagnoses or candidates for misdiagnosis of Celiac Disease. For a general overview of misdiagnosis issues for all diseases, see Overview of Misdiagnosis.

Alternative diagnoses list for Celiac Disease: For a diagnosis of Celiac Disease, the following list of conditions have been mentioned in sources as possible alternative diagnoses to consider during the diagnostic process for Celiac Disease:

Celiac Disease as an alternative diagnosis: The other diseases for which Celiac Disease is listed as a possible alternative diagnosis in their lists include:

Discussion of diagnosis/misdiagnosis of Celiac Disease: Celiac disease could be underdiagnosed in the United States for a number of reasons:

  • Celiac symptoms can be attributed to other problems.

  • Many doctors are not knowledgeable about the disease.

  • Only a handful of U.S. laboratories are experienced and skilled in testing for celiac disease.

More research is needed to find out the true prevalence of celiac disease among Americans. 2

Medical news summaries about misdiagnosis of Celiac Disease: The following medical news items are relevant to misdiagnosis of Celiac Disease:

Misdiagnosis cases for Celiac Disease: No cases available yet.

1. Reader's Digest, February 2004, "10 Diseases Doctors Miss", page 120
2. excerpt from Celiac Disease: NIDDK

Last revision: April 9, 2003

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