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Cough Drops And Itching
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I was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I've always gotten a swollen throat when I eat cough drops that contain caramel color, as well as colas and anything else with caramel color. Of course as a newbie and in a rush to relieve cold symptoms, I ate one without looking and paid the consequences. (I've since gotten them out of the house!) I've also been itching a lot lately. So the doctor gave me Atarax for allergy symptoms and mentioned some people with Celiac have problems with itching.

My questions: is this a sign that I'm on the super sensitive side? I never received the IgA test results with specific numbers, just a declaration that I was in the moderate to severe range.

Where can I buy pure eucalyptus drops?

I've read that it can take a year for your gut to heal after starting a gluten-free diet, can I safely assume my immune system will improve too?

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Okay, question time. :)

1. When you get a swollen throat, what does it feel like? Has the doctor ever seen the swelling? Does your tongue ever swell, or other areas in your mouth? Do your lips tingle, or your mouth feel prickly/itchy/burning? Does your voice change so that it's hoarse or squeaky? Does your throat hurt, kind of in the middle? Does it hurt to swallow?

2. Where do you itch? Is it all over the skin, or more in certain areas? Do you get a rash at all? Do areas where skin touches skin, or where there are tags or clothing rubbing against skin, itch more? Does it ever change color the more/less it itches?

Re: itching. Most celiacs I know who have itching due to gluten have it because of dermatitis herpetiformis. Usually this involves a rash. What I don't know is whether this can start after going gluten free, if you didn't have it originally. Or, two, if the itching can sometimes occur without any of the rash manifesting, if the gluten level is low enough. Hopefully some super sensitives here can speak to that better.

Other celiacs with itching here on the forum have other issues that are causing the itching. Allergies is one, sometimes to the gluten grains. Salicylic acid intolerance/sensitivity is another one that causes itching, I believe, as does histamine sensitivity. For a lot of us, these issues start AFTER we go gluten free, or at least they are more noticeable to us now.

Re: the throat swelling. Some people can have allergic reactions to foods where their body only reacts to the food with their intestinal tract. This often can involve burning or stinging in the mouth, swelling in the mouth, tongue, or throat. Often involves the runs, as well, as it can inflame the intestines, too.

Another really wacky throat thing is something called irritation induced paradoxical vocal cord dysfunction. In the presence of certain irritants (which differ from person to person), the vocal cords shut when a person inhales/exhales, and open when air is not moving over them, the opposite of what they are supposed to do. Why this starts happening is unknown, the condition is hardly known at all, actually, but once it's triggered, it'll keep happening.

If it happens to you, it feels like the throat is swelling, it can impede breathing, and it can change the sound of the voice once it triggers. It can hurt to swallow. It gradually subsides after a few minutes to a few hours, for most people.

I had the vocal cord thing that we believe I have had for a while, but it's been much worse after going gluten free. I get it from some of my mild food allergies, if I swallow or inhale them. Some people get them from certain ingredients, from foods a certain temperature, from chemicals, all sorts of stuff.

Good news is that if it's the vocal cord thing, there's physical therapy you can get to make it better (speech therapists who are skilled in this do it. They work with the muscles of your throat and neck to help it, although not cure it). It is also very easy to diagnose. You eat the thing that triggers it and they stick a tiny camera down your throat and watch your vocal cords as you are breathing. It's very clear to see if it's this issue.

It popped into my head because chocolate and caramel colored things used to be what got me, too. If I ever coughed when I had recently eat one of these things, or choked while eating one of these things, I had the worst time trying to breathe!

My questions: is this a sign that I'm on the super sensitive side? I never received the IgA test results with specific numbers, just a declaration that I was in the moderate to severe range.

Sadly, the tests are more a measure of how much damage your body may need to heal. Some people have severe reactions to traces of gluten, some have mild reactions to traces of gluten, so they can both be sensitive, but may have different levels of damage.

Don't know where to get good eucalyptus drops, I'm afraid.

I've read that it can take a year for your gut to heal after starting a gluten-free diet, can I safely assume my immune system will improve too?

For most of us, that's the case. I would recommend getting vitamin levels checked, too, however, because that's an issue that can keep a lot of us celiacs ill and susceptible to illness. Some celiacs never fully regain their ability to absorb vitamins properly, so it's an important thing to keep track of.

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