Everything You Need to Know About Celiac Disease in South America

By 11 December, 2019

Did you know that 1 in 100 people have Celiac disease?

It’s a debilitating autoimmune condition that can cause a lot of harm to an individual, if not spotted and treated accordingly. As Healthcare Weekly notes, this condition results in the body’s own immune system attacking itself whenever the sufferer consumes gluten.

Celiac disease is often passed off as simply ‘an allergy’ or a ‘gluten intolerance’ but it is a lot more than that. It can be difficult to manage, but luckily, there are some fantastic tests and lifestyle adjustments that can help make this disease much easier for sufferers to live with.

In today’s post, we’re going to be looking at this autoimmune disease specifically from the perspective of the South American community.

South America is a region that has been particularly stricken by the disease, as showcased by these Celiac Disease Foundation findings. The prevalence of Celiac disease in South America is 4%- compared to 0.5% in North America and Africa, 0.6% in Asia or 0.8% in Europe and Oceania. This is a significant difference, and is absolutely worth talking about.

In this post, we’re going to be taking an in-depth look at the disease itself, and the key symptoms and signs to look out for. Then, we’ll go over the best options for South American tests for Celiac disease, and consider suitable treatments too.

What is Celiac disease?

Before we get started, let’s make sure that we’re all on the same page with Celiac disease. What exactly is this disease? As we noted earlier, it’s an autoimmune disease that is affected by the presence of gluten in a diet.

The Celiac Disease Foundation notes that the disease is prevalent in genetically predisposed individuals, and that it can lead to serious damage in the small intestine. People who have a close relative with Celiac disease (e.g. a parent or a sibling) are at a 1 in 10 risk of developing the disease. It can develop at any age in a person’s life.

What are the symptoms of Celiac disease?

So, what are the key symptoms of Celiac disease to be aware of? There are a lot of individual symptoms that may vary from person to person, due to the differences in diets or individual health conditions. The most common ones to watch out for are;

  • Diarrhea and bloating
  • Gas
  • Fatigue
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Iron-deficiency anemia
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Rashes

As you can see, Celiac disease can affect so many different areas of a person’s life.

Not only can it mess with a person’s physical health and give them issues in that regard, it can also affect a sufferer’s mental health and happiness. 

What Celiac disease testing options are there in South America?

It can be tricky to spot whether a person might be suffering from Celiac disease, or whether they might have a combination of other problems. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the various testing options that are available.

Of course, the first obvious step to take is to watch out for the key symptoms that are listed above. Do these symptoms show up more when the person consumes items with gluten in? What happens if you remove gluten from their diet for a week? This is not a certified way to check whether someone has Celiac disease, but it will give you an inclination to start.

The next step is to consider whether a home testing kit could benefit you. There are some great options available on the market right now, like the ImawareTM Celiac at-home test kit. These tests can provide detailed reports which you can share with your family doctor.

Finally, you can go to a doctor or professional to get tested for Celiac disease and decide upon your next steps. As noted by this NHS post, the testing process usually involves a blood test to determine whether someone might have the disease, and a biopsy to confirm the results of the blood test.

How can you treat Celiac disease?

To finish up this post, we wanted to go over how to treat Celiac disease. It’s worth noting that there is not a cure for Celiac disease yet. It’s simply a case of managing the condition and improving the sufferer’s quality of living wherever possible.

The best way to manage Celiac disease is to live a gluten-free lifestyle, as noted by Chicago University’s Celiac Disease Centre. Cutting out gluten can help repair any existing damage, and help mitigate any future damage. This isn’t a short-term fix, it’s something that will have to be stuck to for life. Fortunately, alternative diets are much more common nowadays and there are some delicious gluten-free options on the market.

There are medications that are being developed to help Celiac sufferers. There is one that is supposed to be available to the public in 202. It’s reassuring to know that a possible cure is being developed so quickly.


Celiac disease can be very difficult to manage and cope with, but with the right tests and treatments, it can be a lot easier. It’s great to see that there are so many more options for gluten-free foods, Celiac tests and treatments, but it’s certainly an area of healthcare that could do with more attention and funding.

If you think you might have Celiac disease, get yourself to a medical professional or to a suitable test to confirm whether you need to make any important lifestyle adjustments.

Did you find this post helpful? Would you like to read more about the South American community and related news? If so, we think you’ll love the rest of our posts. Sounds and Colours has been around since 2010, and we’re dedicated to bringing the internet the best of South American culture, news and content.

Follow Sounds and Colours: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Mixcloud / Soundcloud / Bandcamp

Subscribe to the Sounds and Colours Newsletter for regular updates, news and competitions bringing the best of Latin American culture direct to your Inbox.