This Celiac.com FAQ on celiac disease will guide you to all of the basic information you will need to know about the disease, its diagnosis, testing methods, a gluten-free diet, etc. Subscribe to FREE Celiac.com email alerts What are the major symptoms of celiac disease? Celiac Disease SymptomsWhat testing is available for celiac disease? - list blood tests, endo with biopsy, genetic test and enterolab (not diagnostic) Celiac Disease ScreeningInterpretation of Celiac Disease Blood Test ResultsCan I be tested even though I am eating gluten free? How long must gluten be taken for the serological tests to be meaningful?The Gluten-Free Diet 101 - A Beginner's Guide to Going Gluten-FreeIs celiac inherited? Should my children be tested? Ten Facts About Celiac Disease Genetic TestingIs there a link between celiac and other autoimmune diseases? Celiac Disease Research: Associated Diseases and DisordersIs there a list of gluten foods to avoid? Unsafe Gluten-Free Food List (Unsafe Ingredients)Is there a list of gluten free foods? Safe Gluten-Free Food List (Safe Ingredients)Gluten-Free Alcoholic BeveragesDistilled Spirits (Grain Alcohols) and Vinegar: Are they Gluten-Free?Where does gluten hide? Additional Things to Beware of to Maintain a 100% Gluten-Free DietFree recipes: Gluten-Free RecipesWhere can I buy gluten-free stuff? Support this site by shopping at The Celiac.com Store.For Additional Information: Subscribe to: Journal of Gluten Sensitivity
I meant to add that I often suspected that my housemate has problems with gluten. She too was always coughing, morning and evening, and has bowel issues for which she takes L-glutamine and she suffers arthritis-like symptoms in her joints. I kept telling her about my experiences with wheat and I think it fell on deaf ears. But while I was searching for transition foods for my dad I found some breads that I tried and I thought she might like and I gave her a loaf of gluten-free raisin bread. She really liked it and decided to try one day off wheat. The next morning no pain in her fingers. I can see the swelling go down. Sometimes the way to the ears is through the mouth.
I have not been diagnosed as being gluten sensitive, but years ago--in my 20s--I felt I had allergies as a result of eating wheat (chronic post-nasal drip, diarrhea if I ate wheat germ or bran) and mostly gave up all wheat for about 10 years, though I didn't realize I also had problems with dairy and some symptoms persisted (mostly a much-diminished form of post-nasal drip and dark circles under the eyes).
Then in 2008 when I was commuting to a workplace where I found it hard to find the kinds of foods that I eat that don't contain wheat, I began eating wheat again. Within six months I started having balance issues; going up stairs my left leg would develop "a mind of its own" and do what it wanted to do, sometimes skipping a step, nearly causing me to fall. The first time it happened I almost freaked out. I thought I was crazy.
I soon learned that I had to walk slowly and deliberately upstairs, thinking about each step and hanging onto the handrail, although in the past I had often skipped steps and was faster going up stairs than most people my age.
I endured the frustration of having a leg that "had a mind of its own" and the only thing that made it tolerable was that it didn't happen with every step and that it only happened on stairs and never on flat ground. So I could continue to go on long walks. But I felt my self-esteem take a dive. I didn't want to go to a doctor because most of my dances with doctors have undermined my health.
When I lost that job and started working out of my house, where I could prepare my own food, my attacks of ataxia began to diminish. It was more of a gradual reduction rather than something that happened immediately. I think it was about 2-3 weeks before I noticed I had days without at least one ataxic episode. Because I live on the third floor I have to go up and down stairs nearly every day.
When I stopped eating wheat I would have fewer episodes and they gradually diminished until 6 months later I was free of any of the balance symptoms. One day I made the connection to gluten or, rather, I wondered if it was the cause. I was fortunate that I had been working in a field of publishing that granted me some medical knowledge and I had heard of ataxia and was able to identify the behavior, though I haven't had any kind of formal diagnosis.
After being gluten free for 4 years and again having no symptoms, I started working at another job and started eating wheat again and my symptoms returned within a few months. I went off gluten within a month of their return. That was about 2-3 months ago and the symptoms are diminishing, but now I have realized I cannot eat oats either. Then a blow has hit us. My father had diarrhea for years and I kept telling him he might have celiac disease (not realizing that I too might have it). He wouldn't listen and his health took a nose-dive, he lost weight and developed other health issues (hypothyroidism). Then he developed balance issues and fell and injured his head. He's slowly recovering in the hospital. I am gathering information for him so that he will be convinced to stay away from wheat. I learned that he had been eating a lot of wheat before he fell because it was the only thing that "helped" with his diarrhea. The doctors have him on a gluten free diet and he no longer had diarrhea after 2 weeks on the diet. And he is 94. They think he will recover. I am hopeful that he can pull through this. I just hope that there isn't too much damage to his brain from the wheat and from the fall.