Some Sort Of Gluten Sensitivity?
Posted 12 January 2004 - 02:45 PM
first of all thanks for reading this. this is my first post. i am a 25-year-old female student who has struggled with "irritable bowel syndrome" for the past ~3 years or so. during those years i spent a long time trying to pinpoint what the hell was causing me so much gastrointestinal grief. as of now, i seemed to have narrowed it down and so basically, i just want to get some sort of lab test to confirm that i either have celiac disease, or some other non-celiac sensitivity to wheat and/or gluten. i want this so i can honestly tell people (dinner party hosts, waiters/chefs at restaurants, etc) that i have a medical condition in which i cannot consume anything containing wheat. i mean, it's a lot easier to explain to people at a dinner party that i can't have that bread/pizza/pasta/cake because "i have gluten intolerance" rather than than "well, because every time i eat that stuff, within about 4 hours i will get so bloated i will feel like i am about to explode, and then will be up half the night with major abdominal pain.."
anyway, general symptoms started showing up about a year and a half ago (bloating, gas, *major* abdominal pain, alternating diarrhea and constipation). i saw several doctors (even went to the emergency room a few times when the pain was really bad) but basically nothing ever came out of it..they all seemed to say it was just to due to stress or eating fatty foods. however, i ate a fairly nutritious diet (no junk food whatsoever, plus i cook a lot). i did try removing dairy products from my diet, and also meats, but the symptoms persisted.
so it wasn't until late July of last year (5 months ago) that i began to get a clue on what was ailing me. by some (extremely fortunate) random accident i came across a link describing Candidaisis (yeast overgrowth in the intestines). the symptoms described me to a T, and so i followed the recommendations of an anti-candida diet (consists of eliminating things like sugar, artificial sweeteners, mushrooms, peanuts, milk and gluten-containing grains such as wheat).
i began following the diet more or less, and my symptoms improved significantly. then in August, a naturopathic doctor (ND) performed a series of electrodermal tests on me, which said i was allergic to wheat. now, i know that most people believe that electrodermal testing is a crock, but at the point i started to wonder if my sensitivity to wheat might actually be real. i began eliminating wheat more strictly from my diet, and my symptoms continued to improve. In October i went my doctor and told him I suspected i had Celiac disease. He said it was unlikely since i was not underweight (i'm 5'6" and 130lb) and i didn't have chronic diarrhea, etc. also apparently celiac disease is more common in people of northern european descent (im hispanic). however he did set up a few tests: a blood tests for gliadin antibodies, and an Upper GI test looking at small intestine. the Upper GI test was normal (no evidence of sprue or anytime of damage), however by then i had been on a wheat-free diet for about 3 months. and the blood tests turned out surprising..IgE and IgA were normal, but IgG was high (27, normal is below 20). the doctor suggested i might see an allergist (re: suspected wheat allergy) and get a blood test again.
so, i did see an allergist in late November and she noted that for the past few years I have been anemic (ferritin level of 1.0, hematocrit of around 31). she prescribed an iron supplement and then said that a month later i get re-tested for the IgG and IgA, and also get a skin test. so a few days ago i got another blood test. and today i went to the allergist again, and got a skin test (the one where they prick your arms and test you for like 50 different things). anyway, all the skin tests, incl. wheat came out negative (she noted, however, that that ruled out specific wheat allergy, but not celiac disease). regarding the blood test results: the RAST test for wheat was negative, and IgA was fine (i think it was around 7). But my IgG was abnormally high again (26, where normal was <20). She also said that i was still anemic (ferritin of 2.0, and hematocrit of 34), but was slightly improving. The allergist then referred me to a gastroenterologist, which i'm supposed to see on wednesday.
so first of all, thanks to anyone who has read this far! my basic question is, now what? with the IgG result, can i now honestly say that i have a sensitivity to gluten? I have been "researching" on my own using Google and i have found that anemia is quite common among ppl with gluten sensitivity, because the absorption of iron is somehow disrupted. also, i read that the IgA antibody will become low/normal in a gluten-sensitive indivudal who has been following a gluten-free diet. anyway, i am wondering if there its still likely for me to have celiac disease, and if not if there is some sort of non-celiac gluten sensitivity that could exist. i just want some medical statement, written in paper, signed by some doctor that says i shouldn't eat wheat! i just need to prove to everyone else that it's not just "all in my head."
Posted 12 January 2004 - 08:36 PM
Posted 13 January 2004 - 01:29 PM
Welcome to the board! I'm glad you found us! And it's great that you have been observant and self-aware enough to narrow down your trouble on your own, since doctors have an annoying tendency to disregard the dietary connection to illness.
Yes, the gluten-free diet will allow your antibody levels to normalize, but there's another possibility, too. Did your doctor test your *total* IgA level, or just the anti-gliadin IgA level? It is possible that you might have "selective IgA deficiency," which would result in low/normal IgA readings even if you do have celiac disease. Your IgG levels would be unaffected, however. Without a total IgA test, negative anti-gliadin IgA results are inconclusive!
You may also want to have a look at the website for Enterolab and check out their testing options, as a backup or adjunct to conventional testing if nothing else!
I wish you the best of luck as you seek a conclusive diagnosis, and feel free to ask questions anytime!
gluten-free since November 1, 2003
Posted 14 January 2004 - 06:30 AM
First of all whatever pain you are in know that it is not in your head. I am so tired of hearing that since I have been told that all of my life. I have a diagnosed celiac for 7 years and let me tell you, I can relate to alot that has been said. All the things you have been through I have been there and back. I have never been blood tested I had an endoscope and it confirmed celiac. If you go gluten free though before the biospy then the reading will get compromised and not get a true reading. I think you should tell your G.I when you go that you have stopped eating gluten. He will most likely tell you to start eating it again then retest. I'm not saying you have Celiac Disease but you sound exactly like me.
Good luck with everything and remember fight for your health because nobody else will!!!
Posted 16 January 2004 - 04:58 AM
regarding my previous blood test, i think i don't know if it was the total IgA count or not. i will ask the doc at my next appt!
also, i did end up going to the gastroenterologist the day before yesterday. he said that this point there's not much evidence to do a biopsy (since the IgG was not that that much higher than normal, and the other tests were OK). apparently it's not that uncommon to have slightly elevated IgG? however, he sasid that he might schedule a biopsy if "more evidence" for gluten enteropathy shows up, i.e. i'm still not absorbing iron properly. i got another blood test done yesterday to test to see if i'm actually producing iron (the blood test i got a week ago tested ferritin, which is apparently just the iron _stores_).
anyway, i guess i was sort of disappointed since i know that even if i do end up getting a biopsy, it probably won't show anything since i've been on the gluten-free diet for about 5-6 months. i heard some people in this forum say they go back on gluten for testing, but exactly how long does that take? hours? days?weeks? if it's weeks or more i'm sort of unwilling to do it, since it causes so much pain/discomfort and plus i could potentially be damaging my intestines on purpose. for the blood test i had a week ago, i just ate gluten the day of the test (ate wheat bran cereal in the morning, then a sandwich with a whole wheat bun around noon..i took the test around 3). i wonder if that was enough..do i have to go back on gluten for several days or more?
Posted 18 January 2004 - 01:33 PM
Unfortunately for most of the tests for Celiac's you must be eating Gluten containting products. The only one I can think of is the HLA-DQ2 which checks for a certain gene. But for the IGG, IGA, TTGAB and the biopsy you have to be eating Gluten. There is always Enterolab, though I must admit that I am not sure on the reliability as I have not used them *yet*.
Hope this helps you out some..Sorry I couldn't be of more help.
Mom of two.
One with Gluten Enteropathy, Reflux, Gastroparesis. Youngest with Reflux and Gastroparesis (scheduled for Biopsy tomorrow morning).
Posted 19 January 2004 - 05:48 AM
Unfortunately you have to be on gluten for at least a week to show any signs of damaged villi for the biospy. I'd say don't go on it if you don't have a biopsy scheduled as you could do damage to you intestines when you don't need. I'd push for the biospy if you think you have it. I've haven't had any other tests to conclued Celiac so I don't know about all the blood test jargon, but I do know that the biopsy worked for me!!
Posted 19 January 2004 - 07:26 PM
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