Jennifer Esposito Continues to Raise Awareness for Celiac Disease
For the past few years, Jennifer Esposito has been managing celiac disease and raising awareness. After suffering severe intestinal symptoms and losing a tooth, she decided to take matters into her own hands. As a fighter and avid health enthusiast, Esposito went toe-to-toe with some of nature’s most serious conditions, including cancer, Lyme disease and celiac disease.
In an interview with Oprah: Where Are They Now?, the 45-year-old TV star revealed her struggles against celiac disease, which included her time fighting against a then-unknown enemy. However, this was actually the least of her problems.
As she continued to explore her options, she visited several doctors who were supposed to pinpoint the source of her symptoms. In one of her visits to a physician, she told her general practitioner that she “was jumping out of her skin,” when describing how she was feeling with her symptoms at the time. After this, she thought her doctor would admit her to the hospital, but instead, she was checked into a psychiatric ward.
Instead of being treated for a serious condition, she was thought to be suffering from a mental illness.
While reminiscing with Oprah, she recalled the lowest point of her stay in the psych ward. “I was almost dead—my hair was falling out, my eyelashes fell off, my fingernails were falling off. I was bad," said the TV star.
Luckily, she was diagnosed with celiac disease soon after. Celiac disease is a condition characterized by a notable intolerance to gluten, a protein commonly found in rye, wheat, barley, and all other products derived from it. In its initial phase, celiac disease can severely affect the part of the small intestine where most of the nutrients are absorbed, making it difficult for someone who suffers from the disease to receive nutrients and minerals through the foods they consume. In this sense, a celiac patient may try to eat healthily, but may remain malnourished due to their condition.
Celiac disease was only given a formal name in the fifteenth century. Also, as awareness of the disease continues to increase but not nearly enough people know about it. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, at least 1 percent of the global population is struggling with celiac disease and at least 2.5 million Americans are struggling with celiac disease, without even knowing it. A vast number of celiac cases still go undiagnosed to this day, due to the complications associated with identifying the disease, coupled with the physician’s skepticism to reach this diagnosis.
Read on to learn more about Esposito's experience with celiac disease and how she is raising awareness.
Photo Source: Jennifer Esposito by zeeshan latif