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Severe Fingernail Biting
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I am posting this to share my experience with gluten with the hopes it helps someone else out there some day.

For 25 years I bit my fingernails very severely...to the point they would almost always be bleeding, sometimes 1/8" long, picking layers of nails off with teeth, and I would tear apart my nail beds from constantly biting them. I tried everything to quit over the years from being put on Prozac, having others smack my hands if they saw me, etc. I did this from age 5 until 30.

I discovered that going on a very strict gluten free diet solved this problem along with other symptoms of celiac disease I never even realized were a symptom until I gave up gluten.

Issues that went away after being off gluten:

  • Had to visit bathroom after almost every meal (looking back I ate a lot of gluten)
  • Heart palpitations (very frequent at the end)
  • Very short tempered and for the dumbest things
  • Very very sad especially on cloudy or rainy days
  • Severe nail biting
  • Bloated feeling after eating

I've never been tested for celiac disease because after going gluten free I refuse to eat gluten even to get tested...I know I feel way better and it is obviously not good for me.

Anyways just posting this in hopes it helps someone else that has severe fingernail biting and has no idea why they can't stop.

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Hi, and welcome to the board. When I read your post, I immediately thought, oh, that sounds like pica!! A quick google and I found the following:

Pica is the practice of eating any substance compulsively; the item may be a food or something not considered food, such as soil or clay. Many theories have been suggested to explain why pica develops. Pica may be a sign of psychological illness, or in some cultures, an accepted religious ritual. Physical causes are also possible, as shown by research linking both iron deficiency and zinc deficiency with pica. These nutritional deficiencies may be either the cause or the result of pica. The cases of three young children who had persistent pica are discussed; all had a type of pica called geophagia, meaning they ate soil, clay, and stones. All three were severely iron-deficient. The cases were unusual because the children were found to have celiac disease, a gastrointestinal condition caused by allergy to gluten, a protein found in wheat and certain other grains. Before celiac disease is diagnosed, patients may suffer from severe diarrhea, malabsorption and intestinal bleeding. In these children, the intestinal symptoms were quite mild, but they developed severe iron deficiency and growth failure as a result of their chronic malabsorption. Once put on a gluten-free diet, the children experienced large growth spurts, and their pica resolved completely. In these children, pica was apparently the result of iron deficiency, which in turn was caused by celiac disease. Children with pica and anemia should be evaluated for celiac disease, particularly if they are growing poorly. (Consumer Summary produced by Reliance Medical Information, Inc.)

Read more: http://www.readabstracts.com/Health/Pica-as-a-presenting-symptom-in-childhood-celiac-disease-The-duodenal-string-test.html#ixzz2HGBtNhTw

See also:

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/51/2/139.full.pdf

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Your post reminds me of something else I noticed after going gluten free. My body craved like no other the most nutritious fruits and veggies raw. Examples were raw kale, raw cabbage, and raw cauliflower.

Hi, and welcome to the board. When I read your post, I immediately thought, oh, that sounds like pica!! A quick google and I found the following:

Pica is the practice of eating any substance compulsively; the item may be a food or something not considered food, such as soil or clay. Many theories have been suggested to explain why pica develops. Pica may be a sign of psychological illness, or in some cultures, an accepted religious ritual. Physical causes are also possible, as shown by research linking both iron deficiency and zinc deficiency with pica. These nutritional deficiencies may be either the cause or the result of pica. The cases of three young children who had persistent pica are discussed; all had a type of pica called geophagia, meaning they ate soil, clay, and stones. All three were severely iron-deficient. The cases were unusual because the children were found to have celiac disease, a gastrointestinal condition caused by allergy to gluten, a protein found in wheat and certain other grains. Before celiac disease is diagnosed, patients may suffer from severe diarrhea, malabsorption and intestinal bleeding. In these children, the intestinal symptoms were quite mild, but they developed severe iron deficiency and growth failure as a result of their chronic malabsorption. Once put on a gluten-free diet, the children experienced large growth spurts, and their pica resolved completely. In these children, pica was apparently the result of iron deficiency, which in turn was caused by celiac disease. Children with pica and anemia should be evaluated for celiac disease, particularly if they are growing poorly. (Consumer Summary produced by Reliance Medical Information, Inc.)

Read more: http://www.readabstr...l#ixzz2HGBtNhTw

See also:

http://ajcn.nutritio.../2/139.full.pdf

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Thanks for the post. It gives me son insight and hope for my son.

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    • Mnoosh,    Can you give us a link to the article you read about the increased risk after being diagnosed and maintaining a strict gluten-free diet??       IMO,   You are over reacting to a misprint or most likely a misread article.
    • Yes!  With dairy, celiacs can often have a temorary lactose intolerance due to damaged intestinal villi (where the enzymes normally are released to digest lactose).  Of course you could be naturally lactose intolerant based on race or age.  It is best to stick to a whole foods diet while you are healing.  Really, is ice cream or potato chips going to provide you with nutritional value?  Stick with naturally gluten free foods like meat, fish, fats,  veggies (even those with carbs like sweet potatoes or winter squash) and fruit.  Avoid that processed junk as you may react to the additives right now.  Later, you can add back in dairy (test) and other foods you miss and crave.   Good luck!  
    • Take a deep breath and calm down!    The incidence of cancer with Celiac Disease is rare.......it can happen but the vast majority of people never have that experience.  You may have somewhat enlarged lymph nodes due to inflammation from undiagnosed Celiac but that will all calm down and go away once you get going on the diet.  Believe me, there are many of us that have things happen during the diagnosis and early recovery period and everything turned out just fine.  There is an elevated risk for some cancers with Celiac but that risk goes back to that of the general population after a couple of years on the gluten-free diet. I cannot remember the exact time frame but it is somewhere between 2-4 years, I think.  So many of us went years without a diagnosis and when it was all figured out, we have gone on to be healthy with little complications.  Really...do  not worry about this.  Concentrate on learning all the ins and outs of this disease and how to live gluten free happily.  We are here to help you and guess what? The diet is not as bad as some make it out to be. Many things can be made gluten free and are every bit as good as their gluten counterparts. The diet may not be convenient but it is not hard. I would not lie to you!   
    • Well....one common symptom that most celiacs have when they are diagnosed (or undiagnosed) is anxiety.  So, there is a risk of cancers, but science has demonstrated that that risk goes down on a gluten free diet (if you have celiac disease).  In goes down to the same risk as those without celiac disease.   I kind of was a basket case.  I drive my family a bit crazy because I was anxious.  I felt a bit stupid too.  I guess I had a little brain fog going on too.  All that resolved after I healed. Welcome to the fourum.  Read our Newbie 101 thread under "Coping" (pinned at the top of the page) and learn about hidden sources of gluten and cross contamination.  I think most of us do not worry about cancer. We mourn the freedom to eat anything anywhere!   I did not have swollen lymph nodes, but I am sure others have and they did not have cancer.  Hopefully, they will chime in and set your mind at ease.  If not, you can search for "lymph nodes" at the top of the page (little magnifying glass).  There are lots of members with the same issue!  
    • I was recently diagnosed as having celiac and to be honest the part I'm having the most trouble with isn't the change in food or lifestyle. I'm really upset about what I've read about the risk of cancer increasing with celiac disease. I think this is playing into my fears because I currently have lymph nodes all over my body-my Doctor says they are not considered swollen or concerning, but I don't usually feel nodes. The lymph nodes and horrible diarrhea for the last 3 weeks were what got me into the the doctor for lab work. My blood work came great so I'm wondering if anyone else experienced lymph nodes reacting when they found out they were celiac? Also how do you deal with anxiety surrounding the increased risk of cancer? Thanks!
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