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Filtering by Tag: inflammation

Asthma Awareness Month

Personalized Cause


May is Asthma Awareness Month!

Hey everyone! Thanks for tuning in to another episode of the awareness blog! Last week we talked about the Spoon Theory and chronic illness. I got a few emails about the post, and I just wanted to say how truly validating it is when my readers connect to a post. Chronic illness is exhausting, and just feeling like someone out there understands can be incredibly comforting. I just wanted to share that I’m glad that some of you could relate, and felt like the blog entry helped in some way. I also encourage you guys to check out the #spoonie community on social media. When I first started exploring it, I was shocked by how many stories I read that sounded like my own. It’s also helpful to discuss treatments, and medicines, and symptoms. Sometimes one of the other spoonies will know of a treatment your doctor hasn’t suggested that helped them. The community can also be filled with humor about the reality of living with a chronic illness, and we all know that laughter is the best medicine. So, check it out. Speaking of chronic illness, today’s topic fits into that category. Today we’re going to learn a little bit about asthma, in honor of Asthma Awareness Month.

I’m sure everyone is familiar with asthma to some degree. I think there’s at least one kid in every school who has asthma and relies on an inhaler to be able to get through P.E. or band practice (shout-out to my little brother, who has asthma and played the clarinet in high school). Despite the stereotype of nerdy kids with asthma, it’s a very common disease that affects tons of professional athletes and musicians. When properly treated and managed, the disease doesn’t hold you back from doing anything you want to do. When not well controlled, asthma can be very serious, and even life threatening.

So, what is asthma, anyway? How does it work? Asthma is an inflammatory condition that affects the lungs, which affects how well a person is able to breathe. Asthma is believed to be caused by a combination of environmental factors and genetics; meaning that it can run in families, and may be triggered by allergies or things like pollution. It can cause a wheezing sound when you breathe, a feeling of being unable to catch your breath, coughing, tightness of the chest, which can become worse with exercise or during the night. Fun fact: the word asthma actually comes from the Greek word for panting.

Asthma occurs when the bronchial tubes become inflamed in reaction to a trigger, like smoke or even a food allergy. When the lungs are exposed to a trigger, they become inflamed and begin producing sticky mucus, which makes breathing even more difficult because it can obstruct the airways. It can also cause the bronchial tubes to spasm, which is why it can cause a cough. When people start experiencing symptoms suddenly and acutely, it’s called an asthma attack. Asthma attacks must always be treated. Not treating the inflammation in the lungs can cause the inflammation to worsen, making breathing progressively more difficult. Treatment is often very effective, and side effects are pretty mild. Not treating inflammation, especially when it occurs regularly, can result in permanent damage. Asthma varies from person to person, and not everyone will experience the same symptoms in the same ways. No two cases of asthma are exactly the same. They can also vary in one person. Many people who have asthma report changes in their triggers, symptoms, frequency, or severity. The condition can change over time. Symptoms can also vary by trigger, resulting in mild symptoms when exposed to one trigger, while another trigger may cause a very serious and dangerous asthma attack. It’s all about learning your triggers, and finding the best ways to deal with your asthma.

Some people can go long periods of time without having any symptoms, like other chronic illnesses. If you remember last week’s post, one of the hallmarks of chronic illness is that the disease can be managed, but rarely cured. Not having a cure doesn’t mean that it can’t be controlled, though. Chronic illnesses, when treated and managed well, can sometimes stop causing symptoms. Many people with chronic illnesses experience long periods of no symptoms. Even if symptoms reoccur, it’s usually easier to get back under control when it has been successfully managed before. So, don’t be discouraged by reemerging symptoms. Another hallmark of chronic illness is that it comes and goes, so just keep in mind that it will likely pop up from time to time. Always keep an emergency inhaler somewhere you can get to it, just in case you experience an asthma attack unexpectedly.

Side note: make sure your inhalers aren’t expired. Sometimes when people keep a rescue inhaler just in case of emergency, but haven’t had symptoms in a while, they forget to make sure it’s still good. Set yourself a reminder in your phone to reorder the inhaler a few weeks before expiration. Better to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it work. That goes for all medicine.

Recognizing the early symptoms of asthma can help lead to a quicker diagnosis, before anything serious happens. Asthma can be tricky to diagnose, sometimes, because symptoms aren’t always bad enough to interfere with daily activity. The symptoms can also mimic other issues, making it easy to overlook. So, let’s take a look at what the early signs or symptoms of asthma may be, so that they’re easier to recognize.

• Coughing. Frequent coughing, especially when it gets worse at night, can be a good indication of asthma. • Wheezing. Wheezing and coughing can come together, and may get worse or be triggered by exercise. • Shortness of breath. This is a common phrase used in medicine, which can be difficult to understand. Shortness of breath can feel like you can’t take a full breath. It can also feel like you’re inhaling deeply but not getting enough air. Shortness of breath can feel different to different people. • Weakness or tiredness during exercise. Because you’re not getting enough oxygen, exercise can be more difficult than it should be. • Allergies, or common cold symptoms like coughing, runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, headache, or sore throat. • Mood. Mood is one of those symptoms that people don’t usually know can be associated with asthma. People who are experiencing asthma symptoms can be irritable and easily upset, or even just grouchy and tired. • Difficulty sleeping. Since asthma has a tendency to get worse at night, people with asthma can sometimes have a hard time sleeping, or have poor quality of sleep. This is often the source of the tiredness and grouchiness.

Asthma is usually treated with anti-inflammatories and steroids, but the method of delivery can depend on the type of asthma, the severity and the frequency. Most people with asthma end up with some type of inhaler. Inhalers for asthma differ. Some combine two medications into one inhaler, some are simply a steroid, and some help to dilate the airways to allow air to flow easier. There are also at home nebulizers, which are the same kinds of medications found in an inhaler, but better for people who have a hard time using inhalers. Children, infants, and older adults with asthma commonly use nebulizers. This method takes a little longer than an inhaler does, but is equally effective. Following a severe asthma attack, the doctor may prescribe a short course of oral steroids (corticosteroids in pill form) to help reduce the inflammation and help your body to recover, while also preventing another attack. Steroids can have some unpopular side effects, but usually when taken for less than two weeks, side effects are minimized. They are very effective. You may not love taking them, but they can be an absolute lifesaver when they are needed. Of course, you should see your asthma specialist to discuss your options.

Hope this gives you all a clear overview of Asthma. It’s a common issue, so we should all be knowledgeable about it. I remember one time at a party in high school a girl had an asthma attack that was so bad we had to call 911. She was fine after treatment, don’t worry. The point is, even if you don’t have it, or nobody you know has it, it’s still good to know about it… just in case. You never know. I think I’ll end with that scary story. Haha. Come back next week for more anecdotes that scare you into learning about health issues. (Just kidding!)

If you’re a new reader, welcome! We’re Personalized Cause, and this is our awareness blog. Personalized Cause is the number one source for custom awareness ribbons in the U.S.! We carry just about every kind of awareness ribbon, or silicone wristband you could want, but our custom awareness ribbons are our favorite product. We love our custom awareness ribbons because they are completely unique, and can be personalized with any name, date, phrase or message you want. Our custom awareness ribbons are also unique because we don’t require bulk orders. You can order just one, or order a bunch and personalize each one with it’s own message. It’s completely up to you! We want to help you raise awareness and be an advocate with the help of our awareness accessories. We started this awareness blog to educate our customers and readers about common health issues that affect people every day. We believe that raising awareness raises the bar in our communities, making people more understanding, educated, and compassionate. Cliché though it may be, were just trying to make the world a little better, one awareness ribbon and blog entry at a time. Thanks for reading!

Asthma is symbolized by a gray awareness ribbon. To order a custom gray awareness ribbon, visit:

#asthma #asthmasucks #asthmaattack #asthmatic #inhaler #nebulizer #breathing #awareness #awarenessribbons #cancerribbons #lungs #inflammation #wheezing

Chronic Illness and "Spoon Theory"

Personalized Cause


In honor of all the chronic illnesses that we raise awareness for in the month of May, let's address the question: What is a spoonie?

Hey, there! So glad you stopped by, friends! Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I trust it was full of some quality R&R, and maybe a little bit of throwing caution to the wind. We all need that every now and then, especially with all this gloomy weather and summer right around the corner. This is always the hardest part of the year for me because it seems to take the longest. Must be all the anticipation of warm nights and not having to wear two pairs of socks to sleep to keep warm. That, and I’ve got some dresses I’m dying to wear. But, enough about me…

Today’s awareness blog topic was chosen after we received a few emails asking us about our “Spoonie” pin, featured of our home page. If you’re active in the online chronic illness groups on social media, I’m sure you’ve noticed the hashtag “#spoonie” used pretty often in reference to chronic illness. I know that when I first got involved with Personalized Cause, I was unfamiliar with the term and seemed to see it pop up everywhere like some kind of inside joke everyone was in on besides me. But, after doing a lot of digging on the interwebs, I was able to find the original article that the hashtag was born from. So, today, I’m going to explain Spoon Theory to you guys, so that we are all in on the joke. That way all my chronic illness people out there can start using is with reckless abandon, without having to guess if they are using it correctly.

First, let’s talk a little bit about chronic illness, since understanding chronic illness is key for understanding Spoon Theory. So, what exactly qualifies as a chronic illness? Excellent question! There are a lot of misconceptions about what defines someone’s health struggle as a chronic illness. I’ve heard people say that an illness is only considered a chronic illness if you become disabled from it. That could not be farther from the truth. I’ve heard people dismiss symptoms of chronic illness and blame their inability to do something on being lazy because “they look fine.” This is a common stigma people with chronic illness face. Often times, people who don’t understand what it’s like to deal with a lifelong health struggle can be dismissive, belittling, and trivializing. People who suffer from chronic illness deal with sometimes debilitating fatigue. It is physically draining for your body to constantly be fighting to maintain and function. It costs way more energy for someone with a chronic illness to complete daily tasks than a healthy person when their disease is active. Unfortunately, people who don’t have a chronic illness themselves don’t always understand this. As the saying goes, “people don’t get it, until they get it,” meaning that the only way for someone to understand what it’s like to have a chronic illness is for them to experience it themselves.

A chronic illness is defined as a disease that is ongoing for over three months. The reality of the situation is that most chronic illnesses last a lot longer than just a few months. Most chronic illnesses are lifelong struggles, or may come and go in episodes, or flare-ups. Because it can be discouraging, upsetting and exhausting to deal with a chronic illness, one of the most commonly experienced complications is depression. A huge percentage of those suffering from a chronic illness also struggle with chronic depression due to the stress and anxiety, or even anger caused by a health issue. It is important to treat the depression on it’s own, and not just hope that by treating the chronic illness, the depression will be treated as well. People can continue to struggle with the depression brought on by chronic illness even after they are feeling better. Some examples of chronic illnesses are things like cancer, asthma, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, COPD, hepatitis, etc. The list goes on and on.

Chronic illnesses usually cannot be cured (with some exceptions), but can be managed with appropriate treatments and lifestyle changes. Sometimes people experience long periods without disease activity, and some people are never completely symptom free. Each chronic illness is very unique in how it affects the person who has it. Chronic illness can be extremely overwhelming, and may make some people unable to work, or even care for themselves. People often make the mistake that people who have a chronic illness but look healthy are fine. Looking healthy and being healthy do not necessarily come as a package deal. The former can certainly occur without the latter. Just remember that you don’t know what it took for that person to appear healthy. They may have spent hours trying to achieve that, whereas others can just wake up looking that way. People who have chronic illnesses can experience chronic fatigue, chronic pain, disability, insomnia, and more, which all drain their energy.

Now that we all understand a little more about chronic illness, I think we can get to Spoon Theory. I’ll include the link to the original article by Christine Miserandino at the bottom of this post.

The article starts out by setting the scene. The author describes the moments leading up to the origination of the spoon theory. She was a normal college girl, with her roommate, eating fries at a diner and chatting about this and that when suddenly her roommate asked her what it felt like to have lupus. Her roommate had watched her live with the disease for quite some time, and so she had assumed that she understood the ins and outs of the disease. But that wasn’t exactly what she meant. She wasn’t curious about what lupus was and the symptoms it caused, rather, she was asking what it felt like to be Christine- a person battling a chronic illness. People with chronic illnesses get this question a lot. It’s very difficult to put into words what it feels like to be sick. It’s even difficult to find the words in your own mind. Nothing quite describes it, and you’re left with an answer that’s as close as you could come. When I was younger, I used to try to practice explaining what chronic illness felt like, so that when my friends asked I could answer them accurately. I was never able to formulate a sentence that really embodied the experience. And so, like Catherine, I would try to invent metaphors for it.

Catherine’s metaphor of living with chronic illness was inspired by her surroundings at that diner; she grabbed as many spoons as she could from the surrounding tables and handed them all to her roommate, proclaiming, “Here you go, you have lupus.” The difference between a healthy person and a person living with chronic illness is represented by this spoon metaphor. Healthy people have a limitless supply of spoons; someone suffering from a chronic illness has a finite supply. When you have a disease like lupus, everything you do must be deliberate. You have to be meticulous with the way you do things, in order to get through the day. You have to choose what to spend your energy on in order to get through as many things as you can. The spoons represent the energy required to perform a task. Say you have 12 spoons of energy, and you have a normal day of college ahead of you. How do you spend those 12 spoons in order to make it to school; Keep in mind, everything costs something. What do you forfeit? Getting out of bed, that’s one spoon. Taking a shower, that’s another spoon, if not two. Getting dressed, another spoon. Brushing your teeth, spoon. Putting on makeup, spoon. Making breakfast, spoon. It adds up so much quicker than you think.

It all came down to this one last task for the day: dinner. If she made dinner herself, there wouldn’t be enough spoons for her to clean up, and if she went to pick something up, she may not have enough spoons to drive home. This little example is actually a very accurate dilemma for someone with a chronic illness. So, what do you do? You grab something out of the fridge, and heat it up. That’s all you can afford with your remaining spoons. From day to day, the number of spoons you start out with may go up a little or down a little, but it’s relatively constant. The takeaway of spoon theory is this: you cannot do everything you want to do; you have to choose, everyday, what to spend your spoons on. The people who face this daily struggle have adopted the term “spoonie” as a nickname for chronic illness sufferers.

I highly recommend you check out the original article. It’s a quick read, and Christine does a wonderful job of conveying the frustration people with chronic illness feel. I hope that helped to quickly explain Spoon Theory in a way that’s easy for people without chronic illness to understand.

And with that, I’ll wrap it up. If you’re a new reader, please read the last paragraph, or so, so that I can explain who we are and why we’ve started this awareness blog. Veteran readers, catch you next time, I hope you enjoyed today’s post.

Personalized Cause is an awareness accessory company based in California. We specialize in custom awareness ribbons. We are the only company that offers customers the option to personalize any color awareness ribbon they choose. Custom awareness ribbons can be personalized with a name, date, phrase, or message. Our custom awareness ribbons are engraved on cloisonné awareness ribbon pins. They are a beautiful way to support a loved one, or advocate for a cause. If custom awareness ribbons aren’t your thing, we also carry classic awareness ribbons, fabric awareness ribbons and silicone awareness wristbands.

We started this awareness blog because we believe in the power of awareness. We believe that educating people can save lives, and that prevention is the most important way to protect your health. We also know that not everything can be prevented, and we want to help inform our readers about warning signs and symptoms of lots of different illnesses, so that they can recognize a problem early on. Early detection is so important to having the best possible outcome. So, if you’re interested in learning a little something every week, and becoming a more aware human, check out our weekly blog.

Light blue awareness ribbons are used to raise awareness for chronic illness. To order a custom light blue awareness ribbon, visit:

Also, here’s the link to the Spoon Theory article by Christine Miserandino:

#chronicillness #invisibleillness #lymedisease #lupus #fibromyalgia #chronicfatigue #arthritis #ulcerativecolitis #crohnsdisease #celiacdiease #spoonie #autoimmune #diabetes #cancer #depression #HIV #AIDS #hepatitas #COPD #awareness #cancerribbon #awarenessribbon #chronicpain

Arthritis Awareness Month

Personalized Cause


May is Arthritis Awareness Month!

Hey you guys! Thanks for stopping by! I hope that everyone out there is pumped to have a little knowledge dropped on their… face, or whatever. Hopefully last week’s post full of poop puns didn’t scare too many of you off. I’m sorry, you just can’t write an awareness blog post about Irritable Bowel Disease without a few jokes. Honestly, I think a little humor can make a world of difference when it comes to shitty health conditions. (LOL, sorry. I’m done, I swear!)

Today’s topic for the awareness blog is way harder to make puns about, so you’re all safe for now. Today, were gonna talk about one of the most common health issues out there. Drumroll, please… Arthritis! This month is Arthritis awareness month, and considering how many people are affected by it, I think it’s about damn time we get around to discussing it.

So, I’m guessing that everyone knows someone with arthritis. What you may not know is that there are different types of arthritis, and the effects of each kind can vary greatly. So, let’s break it down, shall we?

Arthritis is divided into three groups: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. Within those three types of Arthritis, there are subsets of the condition, or diseases that cause the condition. There are more than 100 specific kinds, so I won’t bother listing them.

Osteoarthritis is typically an age-related issue that occurs over time as wear and tear begins to damage the joints and surrounding tissue. Osteoarthritis commonly affects the joints that get the most use, meaning hands, feet, and weight bearing areas like spine, hips or knees. As we age, our cartilage gets worn out, which leaves us with less and less cushion to absorb the shock of everyday physical activity. As you can imagine, given what we’ve just learned about wear and tear, obesity is a major cause of osteoarthritis in those younger than the average osteoarthritis patients. Because there is so much extra pressure on the joints, the cartilage gets worn down more quickly. Osteoarthritis causes the joints to become painful. Over time, function of the specific joints affected may decrease.

Depending on the joint, there may be surgical options available, when medication no longer helps or function is too poor. Some joints can be completely replaced with new artificial joints so that the patient can get back to their normal physical activities. Hip replacements have come a long way from what they used to be, might I add. Other types of joint replacements include knee replacement, shoulder replacement, and even finger joint replacement (called PIP). Of course, joint replacements aren’t right for everyone, and some may not be healthy enough to undergo the surgery. Osteoarthritis is kind of one of those unavoidable health issues, it’s just a matter of what age it will begin and what joints it will affect. It usually begins in the joints that get the most use.

Osteoarthritis is usually managed with NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory medications that are not a steroid), over the counter pain relievers, analgesics (to numb the affected area), dietary supplements for joint health, and even with narcotics, as a last resort. Surgery is also an option for some. There are many self-care options, too, like icing the joint (which is a good idea because it reduces inflammation), products like Bengay or IcyHot, weight loss to reduce pressure on the joints, and exercise (even though it sounds counterintuitive, it keep the synovial fluid moving which helps).

Rheumatoid arthritis is different from osteoarthritis in pretty much every way except for the painful joints. Rheumatoid arthritis, also called RA, is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks it’s own healthy cells instead of invaders such as a virus or bacteria. With RA, the immune system attacks the joints in particular. Over time, the immune system attacking healthy cells leads to inflammation, and inflammation can lead to permanent damage. This is why treatment and early diagnosis is crucial to preventing long-term damage, which can be potentially debilitating in some cases. RA can appear at any age, even children, which is it’s own classification of the disease, called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. RA is not caused by normal wear and tear, but by the immune system, so age doesn’t discriminate either for or against it. RA can appear out of the blue, suddenly, or gradually over a long period of time.

Symptoms of RA are different than osteoarthritis. Typically, the pain in the joints is worse than that of osteoarthritis, and is accompanied by a deep, aching pain. Joints can become stiff, especially noticeable first thing in the morning, easing as the morning goes on. It can cause the joints to look red and swollen, even warm to the touch. These are all indications of the damaging inflammation. It may also affect range of motion, limiting the joints function. One of the less common symptoms is something called rheumatoid nodules, affecting around one in five RA patients. Rheumatoid nodules are bumps that occur over the joints that are under the most pressure. You’ve most likely seen images of them affecting the knuckles. They can be red and just appear as if the joint itself was very swollen, or they can also present as smaller bumps along the joint. Either way, they are a telltale symptom of RA. Another characteristic of RA is that there tends to be symmetry to the affected joints, meaning that if a patient has it in one knee, they likely have it in the other knee as well. Over time, if the disease is not managed or isn’t well controlled other joints will become affected by the disease because RA can be progressive in nature. People with RA can experience chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, and fibromyalgia. As if all of this weren’t enough, RA can also involve other organs, such as eyes, lungs, or even heart.

Last, but not least, we have psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, is also an autoimmune disorder. Generally, people who suffer from Psoriasis are the ones that develop Psoriatic arthritis. Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition that commonly presents over joints, like the elbows. Psoriasis has a red, scaly, patchy appearance, often accompanied by white spots that can flake off. Having psoriasis does not necessarily mean that one will develop Psoriatic arthritis, though. About one third of psoriasis patients end up developing psoriatic arthritis. And, generally, people develop the skin condition before psoriatic arthritis, rather than the other way around. Of course, there are exceptions to that, and some will develop psoriatic arthritis before psoriasis.

Psoriatic arthritis can sometimes be misdiagnosed, particularly because it can look similar to the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis or gout. It also seems to run in families, like many of the autoimmune diseases. In fact, up to 40 percent of those with psoriatic arthritis have blood relatives with a skin or joint condition. Patients are usually diagnosed between the ages of 30 to 50, but it can occur in children and young adults.

Treatment for both RA and psoriatic arthritis are similar because they are both autoimmune diseases. With autoimmune diseases, treating the disease usually means trying to get the immune system to stop attacking itself, and that is done using the same pool of medications for many of the diseases. The first line of defense is usually NSAIDs and over the counter pain medicines (for inflammatory issues, ibuprofen is best). Steroids can be very effective in reducing inflammation, but they come with a lot of side effects. Biologics and DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs), and even some forms of chemotherapy (usually methotrexate) are used to threat them as well. The treatment depends on severity, which is why it is so important to get it under control early on, so that you can avoid the drugs with more serious side effects. Some people also find improvement with natural supplements. One supplement people with autoimmune diseases find particularly helpful is tumeric. Tumeric supplememnts work on a multitude of health issues, which you can learn about here.

That’s the deal, folks. This was just a brief overview, and each type of arthritis could easily be a separate post. I’m sure I’ll get to do that at some point, too. I hope this was an easy to digest run-down of the differences and basics of each kind of arthritis. People tend to find there is more to it than they thought.

To wrap things up, I’d like to very quickly explain a little bit about our awareness blog. This awareness blog is dedicated to raising awareness about many different kinds of illnesses and causes. We tend to choose our post topics based on current awareness observances, like awareness months or awareness days recognized in the U.S. or worldwide. The awareness blog is run on behalf of Personalized Cause, who also hosts the awareness blog on their website.

Personalized Cause is an awareness apparel company that specialized in custom awareness pins. Personalized Cause is the only U.S. company to offer their customers low volume personalized awareness ribbons. Customers can choose any name, date, phrase, or message they want to be engraved on a cloisonné awareness ribbon pin. The pins are beautiful quality, and very affordable. Custom awareness ribbon pins are a powerful way to support someone going through a health crisis, or lifelong health journey.

Arthritis is represented by a blue awareness ribbon, but there are special ribbons to signify rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis. RA is represented by a purple and blue awareness ribbon. Psoriatic arthritis is represented by an orange and lavender awareness ribbon.

To order a blue awareness ribbon, click here:

To order a purple and blue awareness ribbon, click here:

To order an orange and lavender awareness ribbon, click here:

#arthritis #pain #inflammation #jointpain #chronicpain #chronicillness #fatigue #invisibleillness #seearthritis #arthritis #RA #rheumatoidarthritis #psoriaticarthritis #psoriasis #auntoimmunedisease #osteoarthritis #awareness #awarenessribbon #cancerribbon

Celiac Disease Awareness Month

Personalized Cause


May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month!

Welcome back, friends! Sorry for the gap in posts. I’ve become the host body of some awful virus that’s determined to stick around for as long as possible. I’m hoping the end is near… for the virus, not me. Anyways, a word to the wise, there’s a nasty virus going around… pretty much everywhere, and you should avoid it at all costs. Wash your hands, don’t lick handrails, buy a bubble, etc.

Today, I’ve decided that we’ll just jump right into the post, rather than giving you all my schpiel beforehand. I will include it at the end for those of you who are not yet familiar with who we are, what we do, and why we’ve started this awareness blog. If you’re new, please give it a read! If you’re a veteran reader, thanks for coming back and I hope you’ve found something useful in my blogs! Our readers are so important to us, without you we wouldn’t be very successful in raising awareness at all. You are the key to it all. You are the catalysts of change and awareness. You can make the difference we strive to empower you to.

Today’s post is about Celiac disease. Now, I know what some of you are thinking, and that you may have rolled your eyes. Celiac has become the butt of the millennial food and health trend jokes. I think I know why that may be, too; People who are not truly gluten intolerant and just want to appear to be on the cutting edge of the latest food and health trends claim to have Celiac. And what that has done is create a sense of disbelief in the community for people who actually become very ill from ingesting gluten. It’s become so prevalent that people with Celiac have to convince servers that they need to be taken seriously, and to please convey that to the kitchen in the order. I guess my point with all of this is that, yes, it has become trendy to observe a gluten free diet, and no, not all of them have Celiac. But, the people who do have Celiac desperately rely on others, generally in the food service industry, to respect and honor their request for food that is gluten free. It is not just a diet for them. It is their life. Imagine that every time you wanted to go out with friends or family that you had to worry about whether or not the waiter was going to take you seriously and if you were going to become ill from just trying to have a meal out. That sucks! So, next time you hear someone order a gluten free meal, don’t roll your eyes and dismiss them because that only perpetuates a culture of disbelief for people who truly do suffer from the disease.

And now, with that, let’s dive right in, shall we?!

Celiac disease affects the small intestine. When someone who suffers from Celiac eats food with gluten in it, it triggers an immune response, which then causes the small intestine to become inflamed. One thing that not all people realize is that even short-term inflammation that occurs consistently leads to permanent damage. So, if someone with Celiac disease accidentally or unknowingly eats something with gluten in it a couple times a month (which is really easy to do), that adds up to long-term damage pretty quickly. The inflammation isn’t the only dangerous thing that occurs with Celiac disease, too. Celiac disease can prevent proper absorption of nutrients from food, which can lead to malnutrition or critical deficiencies in certain blood levels, for example iron or calcium, which is why so many people with Celiac also suffer from anemia and osteoporosis.

I think everyone associates Celiac with one particular symptom, which is (drumroll)… DIARRHEA! Yes, folks, that’s right, diarrhea is the telltale symptom of Celiac disease, and no, it’s not like your run (diarrhea pun intended) of the mill diarrhea. It’s a special, extra-painful kind of diarrhea because of the inflammation involved. Not to mention the potentially unbearable cramping, bloating, vomiting and gas that gluten can also cause someone who has Celiac disease (sometimes all at once). Some patient’s even end up in the emergency room because of how severe the pain becomes. Other symptoms of Celiac are less obviously related, such as seizures, abnormal periods, oral ulcers, weight loss, rashes, tingling in the legs, as well as muscle and joint pain or swelling.

Each patient experiences the disease differently and may not have all of the symptoms. One may not have diarrhea, but severe bloating instead (and I mean severe, I’m talking seven months pregnant belly). One may experience frequent vomiting and weight loss. Another may experience abnormal menstrual periods, intense cramping, anemia, and diarrhea, a combination that can look more like a reproductive issue than an intestinal one. As you can see, diagnosis may not be so readily apparent in all patients, which makes it difficult for some to be properly diagnosed. This results in people suffering for years, while permanent damage occurs to the body because preventative measures are not taken. Diagnosis is crucial in preventing serious long-term health issues that are caused by Celiac disease.

In addition, diagnosis can be difficult due to another autoimmune disease. As discussed, Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune response is triggered and the body tries to fight what it believes is a foreign invader. For people with autoimmune diseases, the body mistakenly thinks that parts of their own body are invaders. Essentially, the body attacks itself, thinking that it is protecting itself. One autoimmune disease often brings his other autoimmune disease friends, making diagnosis very difficult. Many symptoms mimic other diseases or are very common across the autoimmune spectrum. It can take years to diagnose the first autoimmune disease, and only after that does it become clear there may be another one somewhere else. Some common autoimmune diseases associated with Celiac disease include Lupus, Thyroid disease, Type 1 Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Sjogren’s syndrome.

There are other issues that Celiac can cause, as well. Women who suffer from Celiac may experience reproductive issues such as inconsistent menstrual cycles, infertility, miscarriage, and birth defects in their babies. This is largely due to poor nutrient absorption caused by Celiac. Children with Celiac can experience significant growth issues due to malabsorption. Other problems caused by Celiac can include osteoporosis, intestinal cancer (although rare), seizures, and more.

So, how do you get a diagnosis? Well, it’s a fairly easy process, meaning that it is pretty painless. Your doctor will have to do a physical, and pay close attention to how you describe your symptoms. Food diaries may be requested. Granted it can be annoying to log your whole life into a food diary, it’s straightforward and you won’t have to do it forever, although, many patients find them extremely helpful in identifying certain problem foods. Your doctor will get a medical history, and may also ask about your family medical history, so come prepared. At the end of the appointment, the doctor will likely order blood labs to be drawn to test for certain antibodies that are high in people with Celiac disease. They may also draw labs for blood levels that can indicate malabsorption. In addition to those easier tests, you may be asked to provide a stool sample (everyone’s least favorite test to complete), or be asked to do a biopsy of the small intestine (they put you to sleep for that one). As far as testing goes, not so bad. So, if you or someone you know suspects that Celiac disease may be the cause of health issues, don’t hesitate to get yourself an appointment with your physician to talk about it. It’s an easy conversation to have, and it could save you from doing years of damage to your body.

And now… for the schpiel! If you’re new to our blog, thanks so much for reading! I hope you found it worthwhile, and maybe even learned a little something. The purpose of this blog is to raise awareness for a myriad of causes. We strive to create a more educated and aware society by crushing misconceptions and stigma surrounding health issues. Personalized Cause is the number one source for personalized awareness ribbons in the United States. We are the only company to provide low volume custom awareness ribbons; that means orders with even just a single personalized awareness ribbon.

Personalized Cause believes in the power of awareness. We know that one personalized awareness ribbon can humanize a nebulous disease, and inspire others to become educated and participate in raising awareness and funding. Personalized Cause was founded on the idea that every awareness ribbon represents a person to those that wear it. We believe that when you connect a person to a cause, you can transform the way others see and understand that cause because they see the person rather than just the illness. Custom awareness ribbons can be a silent sign of support, a symbol of courage, or even a source of inspiration. So, if you or someone you know is struggling or on a health journey, maybe checkout our custom awareness ribbons. If you want. No pressure.

All right everyone, catch you next time!

Celiac disease is represented by a light green awareness ribbon. If you would like to order a custom light green awareness ribbon for Celiac disease, visit:

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