“National Celiac Disease Awareness Month” is observed in May in the United States every year. Supported by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) and other relevant organizations, the event aims to raise awareness about celiac disease and provide support for those people affected. An autoimmune disorder, celiac disease is caused by an immune reaction to gluten that affects the small intestine. The immune response to gluten creates toxins that destroy the villi (tiny finger-like protrusions inside the small intestines). Also known as gluten-sensitive enteropathy/ nontropical sprue, the condition damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing certain nutrients from food. There is no specific cure for celiac disease. Following a gluten-free diet along with vitamins, mineral supplements and other medications can help manage the symptoms and promote intestinal healing. For correct clinical documentation of this auto-immune disorder, physicians can consider medical coding services.

The 2021 month-long campaign aims to highlight the work of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) which provides support for those people affected by this auto-immune disorder. The NFCA, in collaboration with scientists and other organizations, also supports research into celiac disease. Studies estimate that about 3 million people in the United States have celiac disease and out of the 3 million who have this disease only 5 percent know they have it.

National Celiac Disease Awareness Month aims to make more people aware that they may have this disease, and that by eating gluten-free food, they can eliminate their symptoms. Celiac disease symptoms involve the intestine and digestive system; but they can affect other parts of the body as well. The signs and symptoms can vary greatly and may be different for children and adults. Some of the common symptoms associated with the condition include – diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal pain/bloating, nausea, constipation, vomiting, irritability, swollen belly and poor appetite.

The event aims to bring together the celiac community to generate awareness and create funds for critical celiac disease research and pivotal advocacy efforts. Diagnosis of celiac disease may begin with a physical examination and medical history evaluation. A wide range of tests may be performed to confirm the diagnosis. People with celiac disease often have high traces of antiendomysium (EMA) and anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTGA) antibodies in their body which can be easily detected with blood tests. Common blood tests like – complete blood count (CBC), serum albumin test, liver function test, cholesterol test, and alkaline phosphatase level test will be performed to accurately diagnose the condition. If any of these blood test results indicate celiac disease, physicians may recommend performing endoscopy or capsule endoscopy to view the small intestine and assess the damage to the villi. Treatment modalities for celiac disease include making diet modifications (by permanently removing gluten from the patient’s diet) as this allows the intestinal villi to heal and begin absorbing nutrients properly. In addition, physicians may prescribe vitamin and mineral supplements and other medications (like steroids) to manage nutritional deficiencies and control intestinal inflammation. Gastroenterologists and other specialists providing treatment need to document various diagnosis tests and other procedures using the right medical codes. Medical billing services from experienced medical billing and coding companies can help physicians use the right diagnosis codes for their billing process.  ICD-10 diagnosis code for celiac disease –

  • K90.0 Celiac disease (This code is applicable to celiac disease with steatorrhea; celiac gluten-sensitive enteropathy; non-tropical sprue).

Celiac Disease Awareness Month was first observed in May 2010. Over these years, the scope of the campaign has widened with a wide range of events being conducted by organizations dedicated to celiac disease awareness. These include – a Gluten Free Food Labeling Summit, in which a number of groups (researchers, legislators, food corporations) meet and campaign to have the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforce appropriate labeling of gluten-free food, 5K and 10K runs, webinars, “Ask The Dietician” events on Twitter (to chat with experts who give dietary advice), and even a Catwalk for Celiac fashion show. In addition, live sessions are conducted where people can listen to and chat with a selected panel that has expertise in celiac disease and gluten-free eating. People can also participate in the campaign by donating or raising funds for celiac disease research, and sharing stories of celiac disease treatment and cure via several prominent social media platforms. Various promotions including – clothing and stationary sales (a percentage of sales are donated to the NFCA) and a gluten-free recipe contest may also be run during this event.