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Man's Fall in Shower Leads to Celiac Diagnosis
Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.View all articles by Jefferson Adams
Photo: CC--Chris Violette
Celiac.com 07/22/2016 - You think you have a crazy celiac disease diagnosis story? Try this one. When a college student fell and struck his shoulder while showering, he went to the emergency treatment center.
There, in addition to shoulder pain from the fall, he complained of numbness in his feet, along with general weakness and fatigue in the preceding few weeks. Blood tests showed the man had mild anemia, prompting the doctor to check his vitamin B-12 level, which was also low. This was puzzling.
The patient was a 20-year-old, seemingly healthy Asian man, whose omnivorous diet should have provided enough B-12 to sustain normal blood levels. That meant that the next likely cause was poor B-12 absorption through the stomach or intestines.
Besides pernicious anemia, which is marked by the absence of a protein in the stomach, the most frequent causes of B-12 malabsorption include celiac disease, HIV, chronic inflammation of the pancreas and even a type of tapeworm infection. The man's youth and general good health seems to rule out pernicious anemia.
Although he had adhered to a more typical Chinese diet that was heavy on fish and rice, he had recently been eating a lot of pizza. Pizza means gluten. Lots of gluten. So could he have celiac disease?
Although most commonly associated with some sort of gastrointestinal distress, such as diarrhea or abdominal cramping, celiac disease can have other symptoms, such as fatigue and numbness of extremities. Celiac often interferes with the gut's ability to absorb vitamin B-12.
Ultimately, the patient met with a gastroenterologist who diagnosed celiac disease. The patient saw his B-12 levels return to normal when he began a gluten-free diet. The numbness has also improved.
So, remember, celiac disease can have some vague and confusing symptoms that will usually improve significantly with a gluten-free diet.
Have a wild celiac disease diagnosis story of your own?
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