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Asthma As Effect Of Gluten Exposure
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I represent a family of four celiacs, 5,6,9, and 29 years old, all female.

My 5 year old daughter wheezes and can spiral downwards into pneumonia at the drop of a hat. The doc doesn't believe that she could be having a reaction to gluten like this -- he says she's asthmatic, but can't diagnose her triggers! Her bloodwork for allergens came back fine! I know that she's more likely to wheeze when she's not-so-accidentally been exposed to gluten. We're not 100% gluten-free yet, though we're working on it. Does anyone know a published report linking athmatic reaction to gluten exposure, so I can show this doctor it really is happening?

Yes, she was tested for wheat allergy, too and that came back negative.

Actually, he tried telling me she wasn't Celiac because her bloodwork came back OK. Tell that to her bowels!

Help!

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An allergy test won't say whether or not she's got celiac. It'll only say if she's got an IgE mediated response to wheat. I'd suggest having him run the celiac panel, or talking to a GI who would do so.

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The problem is, she has been diagnosed with Celiac for just over a year, and is gradually developing stronger and stronger asthmatic responses when she DOES get exposed to gluten. Because of the asthma, they're trying to find her trigger(s) but they're ignoring her previously diagnosed gluten and lactose intolerance in this search. I want to know if there's a link between gluten exposure and asthmatic episodes.

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Here is an article that says asthma is related to Gluten Sensitivity

This information comes from a book called "Dangerous Grains"

Dangerous Grains

If you suffer from a condition such as osteoporosis, Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis or depression, you're unlikely to blame your breakfast cereal. After all, intolerance of wheat, or celiac disease (celiac disease), is a an allergic reaction to a protein called gluten, thought to affect only about one in 1,000 people.

But now two American clinicians, James Braly and Ron Hoggan, have published a book, Dangerous Grains, claiming that what was thought to be a relatively rare condition may be more widespread than was previously thought. Braly and Hoggan suggest that gluten intolerance does not just affect a few people with celiac disease, but as much as 2-3% of the population.

They claim that gluten sensitivity (GS) is at the root of a proportion of cases of cancer, auto-immune disorders, neurological and psychiatric conditions and liver disease. The implication is that the heavily wheat-based western diet - bread, cereals, pastries, pasta - is actually making millions of people ill.

Your doctor, if asked about celiac disease, would tell you that it involves damage to the gut wall, which makes for problems absorbing certain nutrients, such as iron, calcium and vitamin D. As a result, you are more likely to develop conditions such as osteoporosis and anemia, as well as a range of gastrointestinal problems.

Children who have it are often described as "failing to thrive". The proof that you have celiac disease comes when gut damage shows up in a biopsy. The treatment, which has a high rate of success, is to remove gluten - found in rye and barley as well as wheat - from your diet.

But if Braly and Hoggan are right, the problem is far more widespread than the medical profession believes. Celiac disease, they suggest, should be renamed "gluten sensitivity" and, in an appendix to the book, they claim that no fewer than 192 disorders, ranging from Addison's disease and asthma to sperm abnormalities, vasculitis, rheumatoid arthritis and hyperthyroidism, are "heavily overrepresented among those who are GS".

Dangerous Grains contains more than a dozen case histories of people who have recovered from a wide variety of chronic conditions - back pain, chronic fatigue, the auto-immune disorder lupus - simply by following a gluten-free diet. Both authors claim great personal benefits from such a change. "After eliminating gluten grains," writes Hoggan, "I realized how uncomfortable and chronically ill I had been for most of my life."

If you are someone who has visited a clinical nutritionist or a naturopath, this will come as no great surprise. One of their most common suggestions is temporarily to remove wheat from the diet to see if it makes a difference. In fact, so widespread has talk of a wheat allergy become that last November the Flour Advisory Board felt impelled to issue a statement warning of the dangers of this idea. Professor Tom Sanders, head of nutrition and dietetics at King's College, London, was quoted as saying: "Unless you suffer from celiac disease, a very rare condition, cutting wheat out of your diet is extremely unwise."

Sanders certainly represents the mainstream medical view, but there is good evidence - such as the work of Dr Harold Hin, a GP from Banbury in Oxfordshire - to suggest that it may be in need of revision. Over the course of a year, Hin carried out a blood test on the first 1,000 patients who came to his surgery complaining of symptoms that might indicate celiac disease, such as anemia or being "tired all the time". Thirty proved positive and a diagnosis of celiac disease was confirmed by a biopsy.

This indicated that celiac disease was showing up at a rate of three per 100 - 30 times more than expected. Significantly, all but five had no gastrointestinal symptoms. "Underdiagnosis and misdiagnosis of coeliac disease," Hin concluded in an article for the British Medical Journal in 1999, "are common in general practice and often result in protracted and unnecessary morbidity."

More recently, a large research program carried out by the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research in Baltimore has confirmed Hin's findings. Scientists there tested 8,199 adults and children. Half the sample had various symptoms associated with celiac disease and, of those, one in 40 of the children tested positive for celiac disease and one in 30 of the adults.

But it wasn't just those who seemed ill who were having problems with wheat. Far more worrying was what the Maryland researchers found when they tested the other half of the sample, who were healthy volunteers, selected at random. Among kids under 16, one in 167 had celiac disease, while the rate among the adults was even higher - one in 111.

If those proportions are true for the American population in general, this means that 1.8m adults and 300,000 children have undiagnosed celiac disease - people who, sooner or later, are going to develop vague symptoms of feeling generally unwell, for which they will be offered various drugs that are unlikely to make much difference. Ultimately, they are at higher risk of a range of chronic diseases.

There seems, therefore, to be good evidence that celiac disease is underdiagnosed. But Braly's and Hoggan's proposition is more radical than that. They believe that the immune reaction to gluten that damages the gut in celiac disease can also cause problems almost anywhere else in the body. The evidence for this is a test involving a protein found in gluten called gliadin. When the body has an immune reaction, it makes antibodies. The test for anti-gliadin antibodies is known as AGA and people who test positive to AGA often have no sign of gut damage.

In fact, according to Dr Alessio Fasano, who carried out the University of Maryland research, "Worldwide, celiac disease 'out of the intestine' is 15 times more frequent than celiac disease 'in the intestine'." Braly estimates that between 10% and 15% of the US and Canadian populations have anti-gliadin antibodies, putting them at risk of conditions as varied as psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, jaundice, IBS and eczema.

The idea of gluten causing damage to parts of the body other than the gut is supported by another UK practitioner, Dr M Hadjivassiliou, a neurologist at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield. He ran an AGA test on patients who had "neurological dysfunction" with no obvious cause and found that more than half tested positive. What is more, only a third of the positive group had any evidence of celiac disease gut damage. In other words, while the gluten antibodies can damage the bowels, they can also cause problems elsewhere. In this case, it was the cerebellum, or the peripheral nervous system.

So if a reaction to gluten can cause problems in the brain, might it also be linked to immune disorders? Braly and Hoggan certainly think so, and claim considerable clinical success in treating patients for conditions such as Addison's disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis with a gluten-free diet. In fact, almost all the body's systems can be affected (see below). So if you suffer from a chronic condition that doesn't seem to respond to treatment, cutting out wheat for a while seems worth a try.

Are you gluten sensitive?

If you suffer from any of the following, the possibility that you are GS may be worth investigating.

Upper respiratory tract problems such as sinusitis, "allergies", "glue ear"

Symptoms related to malabsorption of nutrients such as anemia and fatigue (lack of iron or folic acid), osteoporosis, insomnia (lack of calcium)

Bowel complaints: diarrhoea, constipation, bloating and distention, spastic colon, Crohn's disease, diverticulitis

Autoimmune problems: rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, Crohn's disease

Diseases of the nervous system: motor neuron disease, certain forms of epilepsy

Mental problems: depression, behavioral difficulties, ME, ADD

The Guardian September 17, 2002

I got this article from http://www.mercola.com/fcgi/pf/2002/oct/5/...rous_grains.htm

If you got to www.mercola.com and type in "asthma and wheat" a lot of articles will come up that have good information and that are well sourced.

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there are not many peer-reviewed, published articles about a connection between the two, and in the end, she absolutely has to avoid gluten anyway (sorry about misunderstanding the first time I wrote), so having the allergist list it isn't as important as if she wasn't dx'ed celiac in the first place. searching pubmed.com, I did fine this article: Coeliac disease--associated disorders and survival. Gut. 1994 Sep;35(9):1215-8., and this one: Could TH1 and TH2 diseases coexist? Evaluation of asthma incidence in children with coeliac disease, type 1 diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis: a register study. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001 Nov;108(5):781-3.

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Your best bet would be to just get her off gluten 100%. Does it really matter if the doctors don't recognise that gluten is her "trigger"?

Both my boys were diagnosed with asthma at least a year before finding out they were gluten intolerant. I don't know if gluten was the cause of their asthma, but I have that book that Taneil mentioned "Dangerous Grains" by James Braly & Ron Hoggan. I have read the whole thing many times and I know that asthma can be caused by gluten. I don't quite know when to have my boys re-evaluated for the asthma. They are both on medication to control the asthma and I would hate to take them off of it without medical supervision in case they start having breathing problems again.

Your situation sounds like they have not got your daughter's asthma under control, is that a correct assumption? If you get her off gluten and her asthma goes away, then that is your answer. I don't know of any other way in which to tell if gluten is the cause. I do know of others that have asthma-like reactions to gluten, though.

God bless,

Mariann

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Thank You All...

It's been so difficult to keep a clear head about all of this. I've had to fight all the way just to have a documented diagnosis, and I'm never sure what's for real and what's my mommy-panic, what's from the gluten and what's genuine sickness.

My six year old is one who goes borderline autistic and her communication is impacted (that's how we found out the rest of us were Celiacs, after she was finally diagnosed) yet she is today, gluten-free, a fairly normal kid with little speech difficulty, while the five year old is likely to become known as gifted and talented. I haven't figured out myself yet. It's been quite a roller-coaster ride! No professionals in the area yet can tell me anything about this condition. Everything I know is from the Web.

Again, thank you.

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I had asthma my entire life and was on steroids for years before my diagnosis. Before I went on the steroids, I woke up every night because I couldn't breathe. I would also get asthma while exercising (but not always). After being gluten-free for about 3 months, I decided to take myself completely off the steroids. I had never had a reaction strong enough to put me in the hospital, so I knew that if I had a reaction, it could be controlled with medication. The results... I have not had an asthma attack and I have not used one puff of medication since. That was 1 year and 3 months ago! There is a connection...

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Gluten triggering asthma? You bet it does!! An accidental ingestion leaves me gasping for air for two days. Doctors don't think of food as causes for these things. If a reaction does not set in within 20 minutes, most doctors will disregard any idea of food as the cause. How very frustrating!!

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