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Disease diagnosis and treatment

June 01, 2007

Re "You know what makes me sick?" Opinion, May 27

As a practicing gastroenterologist and a board member of the Celiac Disease Foundation, I find it unfortunate that Heather Abel accuses physicians of pushing pills after being bought off by drug companies. The failure to diagnose celiac disease is because of symptoms (if any) that are typically subtle and nonspecific, not because of a conspiracy between physicians and drug companies. Abel says her irritable bowel syndrome was treated with Celebrex, which caused ulcers. Her ulcers were treated with antibiotics that caused migraines and so on. In fact, Celebrex is not a drug for an irritable bowel. Ulcers caused by Celebrex are not treated with antibiotics, and antibiotics do not cause migraines. The symptom that she described (abdominal pain causing her to drive "screaming" to the emergency room) might engender sympathy in readers, but it is just not a typical symptom of celiac disease. Most physicians I know are interested in making a correct diagnosis and administering the appropriate treatment. Abel seems more interested in making ad hominem attacks.

STEPHEN LEVINSON

Burbank

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This article proves that we need to be proactive regarding healthcare by finding a board-certified doctor with a recommendation from family or friends, keeping the same primary care doctor and questioning doctors often.

DINESH GHIYA

La Habra

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