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Odd Post-gluten-free Symptoms
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Hello all,

This is a long one, so please be patient or skip to the bottom for the TL;DR version.

So, a little background before I get into my weird post-gluten-free symptoms. I'm 23, male, and a student at the University of Oregon. This last summer I was given a presumptive diagnosis of celiac disease based on blood work (120/30 ELISA units on an anti-tTg IgA blood test). Because I wasn't going to be able to get in to see a specialist for a biopsy for six months due to insurance issues, I went gluten-free at the recommendation of my primary physician.

My symptoms did start to recede, ever so slowly... but of course, by the time I was starting to notice a real difference, I got a consultation with a GI specialist, who told me to resume a normal, non-gluten-free diet for two months so as to not throw off the biopsy results. I started eating gluten again for those two months, got an endoscopy/colonoscopy/small biopsy, and - surprise surprise with 4x the "normal" amount of ELISA units - was positively diagnosed with celiac disease.

I'm now gluten-free again. It's been two weeks, and I'm just now starting to get over the worst of the gluten withdrawals. With the exception of an incident of very mild cross-contamination at the end of last week, I've been doing alright in my recovery process... with a few weird exceptions.

First, my BMs. Surprisingly, while I was back on my gluten-y diet in the leadup to the biopsy, I was pretty regular, and everything was as it was supposed to be. No floating, no malodor, no excess mucous, no partially digested food, etc. However, in the past two weeks since going back onto the gluten-free diet, all of the traditional symptoms of celiac in that department have cropped up. I've become irregular in my BMs, the consistency is off, it's definitely malodorous, digestion isn't working properly, and there's far too much mucous.

Huh? Isn't the opposite supposed to be happening? Interestingly, the first time I went gluten-free I also had an abundance of mucous, but none of the other symptoms.

Second, allergic reactions. One of the recurring symptoms I had pre-diagnosis was constant itchy, runny, red eyes, even when it wasn't allergy season. In fact, this is so consistent that when I was gluten-free the first time, I used this reaction to tell when I had been glutened. So when I got that cross-contamination last week, my eyes got all itchy, as usual. But then, yesterday... they got itchy again. And I'm 100% certain I didn't get glutened yesterday, since I was at work all day in a food-free environment, and the only things that went into my mouth were very carefully vetted and screened by me beforehand (and were all things that couldn't have been exposed to gluten).

Again... huh?

TL;DR version: Going gluten-free again appears to have actively made my intestinal issues and allergic reactions worse.

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HI Magister Mundi,

Welcome to the forum! :)

Going gluten-free seems to have an adjustment period for our guts, as well as our taste buds. Reversing damage to our gut and bodies can take some time, months or more even. It depends a lot on how sick a person was to start with and how much damage they have. But being back on the gluten-free diet means you have started down the path to healing, so that's good. :)

You could try taking some pro-biotics and digestive enzymes with your meals. Eating different foods can throw your gut bacteria off and that can cause symptoms. It also might be helpful to cut back on sugar and starchy foods for a while, until your gut bacteria stablize and your villi heal some.

Just for reference, I had hayfever symptoms that eased off over about 6 months after going gluten-free. Now they are very minor for me. So, your allergy responses may stabilize some as time goes on also.

Congrats on getting diagnosed!

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    • You should never have cut out gluten until you had the biopsy done. It's much worse to have to go back on after you've been off gluten for a while. There's no way I could ever do the gluten challenge after being off gluten for even a month because my reactions got so dramatically worse.  Stress definately can trigger celiac- before I was diagnosed - it got the worst after surgery and after a stressful time planning my daughters wedding. 
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