It sounds like you have something autoimmune going on to me - your symptoms sound so very much like mine did (except that I had more joint problems) and unfortuantely I have a few AI issues. I'll comment on your symptoms as they related to mine; I'm not a medical professional so I can only add what I've learned based on what I've researched because of my own experiences.
A few weeks ago things started to get really bad, I bloated so much and had stomach pains, cramps, gas, lack of appetite and feeling full quickly when eating, I also felt pressure in the middle of my stomach a while after eating. The bloating never stayed constant, it went down a while and came back.
These are pretty classic celiac or non-celiac gluten intolerance NCGI) symptoms. That pregnant look that almost makes you want to double over is a pretty common symptom around here. It usually isn't constant (not many AI disease symptoms are) but will come and go over hours or days; it can appear minutes after a "glutening" or a day or so. In some people it creeps up over time, and in others it appears pretty suddenly over a matter of days.
Celiacs are quite often lactose intolerant. This sometimes passes after months or years gluten-free. I personally get almost the same GI symptoms when I consume milk products as when I eat wheat, it's not as bad when it is baked into something. You might want to switch to a rice, almond or coconut milk. We like coconut milk in our house and I usually use the chocolate flavoured "milk" in my coffees as a morning treat.
I would advise you to get tested based on those symptoms alone.
I too waslike you with the weight loss. If I made an effort to eat less grains and cut calories, I could easily lose 3-7 lbs a week in the early weeks of weight loss. On the flip side, I can easily gain weight if I eat sugar, or feel poorly. Over easter I had too much sugar, and prior to that i was accidentally glutening myself, and I gained 10 lbs in 2 months without eating excessive amounts... just extra sugar. I don't know if this is specifically celiac related or not.
I also have hypothyroidism (Hashimoto's) which has similar symptoms to celiac, and is found more frequently amoung celiacs than the regualr population. You might want to get that checked out too as it could account for your dry skin, slow healing, brain fog, fatigue, and constipation. Hypothyroidism slows your metabolism by up to 10-15% so everything moves a bit slower. These could also be celiac symptoms - there's a lot of overlap there.
If you get tested for celiac, these are the tests you could request:
- Deaminated Gliadin Peptides (DGP IgA and DGP IgG)
- Tissue transglutaminase antibodies (tTG IgA and tTG IgG)
- Total serum Immunoglobulin A (IgA - this is a control test)
- Anti-endomysial antibody (EMA IgA)
- Anti Gliadin antibodies (AGA IgA and AGA IgG - older tests)
The first three tests would be the best for detecting early celiac disease. The EMA is a very specific test but you need a lot of small intestinal villi damage for it to be positive. make sure you are eating daily gluten for 6 weeks (or even more) prior to testing. you could also have an endoscopic biopsy done.
If you want to look into hypothyroidism, these are helpful tests:
- TPO Ab - should be very low
- TSH - should be near a 1
- Free T4 and Free T3 - should be in the upper 50-75% range of your lab's normal reference range
Get copies of all of your tests. Doctors are not perfect (or sometimes even good at) at interpretting lab results and you'll want to recheck you results to be safe. For example, for years I accepted that my thyroid was fine based on my normal (or almost normal) lab results (TSH's of 4-6.5) in spite of my hypo symptoms... My doctors were clueless when it came to subclinical hypothyroidism and I was trusting so I accepted that it must just be aging (in my 20's - pshaw). I regret my trust in them now, because of my trust my 20's were not nearly as healthy as they could have been and I can't get that time back.
Anyway, welcome to the site. Ask lots of questions, there are some really knowledgable people around here. And best wishes.