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“National Celiac Disease Awareness Month” is observed in the month of May in the United States. Supported by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (and other relevant organizations), the event raises awareness about celiac disease – an autoimmune disorder – and promotes activities to inform the community about this condition and how it affects the patients. The major mission behind this campaign is to educate, advocate, and accelerate research for celiac disease. Celiac disease is a digestive disorder which occurs due to an abnormal immune reaction to gluten. Also called celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, the condition damages the small intestine lining and prevents it from absorbing some nutrients (mal-absorption). Over time, the intestinal damage can cause weight loss, diarrhea; bloating, fatigue and anemia and other severe complications. There is no specific treatment to prevent celiac disease. However, a gluten-free diet along with essential vitamins and mineral supplements and other medications can help better manage this condition. For accurate clinical documentation of this auto-immune, digestive disorder, physicians can opt for medical billing outsourcing services.

The 2020 month-long campaign aims to highlight the work of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) which provides essential support for affected people. The NFCA, in collaboration with scientists and organizations, also supports research into celiac disease. Reports from the Celiac Disease foundation show that it is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. In the United States, approximately 3 million people have celiac disease and 21 million people are sensitive to gluten. Of the 3 million who have this disease, only 5 percent are aware that they are affected.

The month-long awareness event aims to make more people mindful of this disease and understand that by eating gluten-free foods they could eliminate their symptoms. The signs and symptoms of this condition may differ according to the specific body parts affected. In most cases, the symptoms may be quite different for adults and children. Typical symptoms include – vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain/bloating, constipation, swollen belly and poor appetite. People who have auto-immune disorders and other genetic disorders like – lupus, Type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lactose intolerance, intestinal cancer and autoimmune liver disease are at increased risk of developing this condition.

Initial diagnosis of celiac disease may start with a physical examination and medical history analysis. Physicians perform different types of tests 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 recommended by physicians include – complete blood count (CBC), serum albumin test, liver function test, cholesterol test, and alkaline phosphatase level test. If any of these blood tests indicate celiac disease, physicians will request endoscopy or capsule endoscopy to study the type of damage to the villi. Removing gluten permanently from the patient’s diet is one of the only ways to treat celiac disease. This allows the intestinal villi to heal and begin absorbing nutrients properly. Physicians may give patients important tips on how to avoid gluten while following a nutritious and healthy diet. In most cases, symptoms like inflammation in the small intestine generally begin to subside (within several weeks), after the patients start avoiding gluten. Complete healing and re-growth of the villi may take several months to several years. Physicians may also prescribe vitamin and mineral supplements and other medications (like steroids) to manage nutritional deficiencies and control intestinal inflammation.

Gastroenterologists or other specialists providing treatment for celiac disease are required to document diagnosis tests and other procedures using the right medical codes. Billing and coding services offered by experienced medical billing and coding companies can help physicians use the right diagnosis codes for their billing process.

K90.0 – Celiac disease – is the specific ICD-10 code applicable to celiac disease with steatorrhea; celiac gluten-sensitive enteropathy; non-tropical sprue.

As part of the monthly observance, a number of awareness building activities are observed through the country. These include – webinars, a Gluten Free Food Labeling Summit (wherein a number of groups (researchers, legislators, food corporations) meet and campaign to have the FDA enforce appropriate labeling of gluten-free food), Ask The Dietitian (where people use Twitter to chat with experts who give dietary advice) and conducting live sessions so that people can listen to and chat with a select panel who have expertise in celiac disease and gluten-free eating. People can also participate in this 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.

Get Involved in Celiac Disease Awareness Campaign This May!