Top 10 'Yuppie' Health Conditions

Some conditions just can't seem to get society's respect.

When chronic fatigue syndrome first came on to the scene, it was ridiculed as the "yuppie flu." Other pooh-poohed conditions got their negative associations by proxy -- "tennis elbow" became associated with country club snobbery. Irritable bowel syndrome, already embarrassing, was a perfect comedic tool for sensitive characters like Ben Stiller's portrayal of the uptight Reuben Feffer in "Along Came Polly."

Even after doctors find a genetic link, a blood test or a treatment, a number of conditions still get stuck with negative labels like "yuppie." Below is a list of 10 of the most besmirched conditions patients wish would be taken more seriously.

Wheat Allergy or Celiac Disease or Gluten Allergy

The plethora of health-nut "gluten-free" foods available makes it simultaneously easier for people to explain celiac disease and difficult for them to be taken seriously.

"Gluten-free now seems to be a fad diet," said Elaine Monarch, executive director of the Celiac Disease Foundation in Studio City, Calif., who added she's seen projections that gluten-free products will generate a billion dollars in food sales in the next few years.

Monarch said in 2004 the National Institutes of Health convened a consensus conference about celiac disease. The doctors estimated that 97 percent of people who have it have not been diagnosed, and that one out of 133 people likely had the condition.

"What they acknowledged was that the disease is much more prevalent than anyone thought before," Monarch said.

However, when Monarch was first suffering from symptoms of celiac disease, the public had hardly heard of gluten-free, never mind celiac disease.

"I was anemic, and everyone said, 'oh, you're female, maybe you had your period.' Or, 'oh, you have red hair.' That has nothing to do with it," she said.

Aside from anemia, celiac disease has a hodge-podge of symptoms -- from bloating, to vomiting, to constipation, to canker sores and in some cases infertility -- that are caused directly or indirectly by a genetic inability to digest a protein in wheat.

Doctors started drawing the connection between wheat and intestinal problems after the end of World War II, according to Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Fasano said that during WWII, when bread was made with potato flour in many parts of Europe, doctors noticed that many of their patients' intestinal symptoms stopped. Then after the war, all the symptoms came back when people started making wheat flour again.

Since then doctors have found a blood test for celiac disease and evidence of damage to the small intestine.

"The fact that we know the trigger is tremendous," Fasano said. "Celiac disease is the only autoimmune disease for which we have a treatment."

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  • Celiac disease is caused by a combination of genetic disposition and an environmental trigger, similar to diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. But unlike those conditions, Fasano said he thinks celiac disease is less respected.

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