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    I first learned of celiac disease while studying for my masters in nutrition and immunology at Texas A&M University. Prior to this, I had been sick for over six years with unexplained health problems. After discussing my options with a local physician, I decided to try the gluten free diet.  Within days the symptoms had resolved!  Ten years and two healthy children later, I am still gluten free.  In an effort to help bring celiac disease into the mainstream, I have recently published a Christian romance novel, Trusting for Tomorrow, that highlights the struggles of diagnosing and living with celiac disease.  Follow my blog at www.jenniferinjupiter.wordpress.com.

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    Scott Adams
    Celiac.com 02/26/2007 - Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disorder. Even though celiac disease is genetic, and generally runs in families, it can sometimes be triggered by, or become active for the first time after, surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection, or severe emotional stress. People with untreated celiac disease typically have abnormally high levels of associated antibodies including anti-gliadin, anti-endomysium and anti-tissue transglutaminase. The presence of these antibodies is caused by an immune system reaction to the presence of gluten in the body.
    When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products containing gluten, the response from their immune system damages the tiny, fingerlike protrusions lining the small intestine, called villi. Properly working villi allow nutrients from food to be absorbed into the bloodstream. When villi are damaged, vital nutrients go unabsorbed. In addition to vitamin deficiencies and their associated maladies, left untreated, villi damage can result in full-blown malabsorption, accompanied by nerve damage, wasting, and organ distress and failure.
    Until fairly recently doctors believed celiac disease was quite rare, and only affected about 1 in 5,000 people. It was also thought of a disease that mostly affected babies and very young children. Recent studies, however, put the estimate of celiac sufferers at 1 in 133 people in the United States. Most people with celiac disease still dont know that they have it.
    More alarmingly, many experts believe that Non-Celiac gluten intolerance could be upwards of 15 times more prevalent than full-blown celiac disease. According to some experts up to 15% of people worldwide—a full 1 in 7—are gluten-sensitive or gluten-intolerant. These people often test negative or inconclusive for Celiac Disease, but can still suffer the same symptoms and long-term problems when they ingest gluten.
    Signs and Symptoms of Celiac Disease
    Its very important to diagnose both celiac disease and Non-Celiac gluten intolerance early before any serious damage to the intestine occurs. However, both can be difficult to diagnose because their symptoms are easily confused with other intestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome or lactose intolerance, thus many people may never discover that they have some level of gluten sensitivity.
    Some common general symptoms of celiac disease are diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating, and weight loss. People with the disease may feel overly tired, and they may also be irritable or depressed. Some have skin rashes and mouth sores. Teens with undiagnosed celiac disease may go through puberty late.
    Symptoms of Celiac Disease can vary greatly from individual to individual, and even among family members. Symptoms may occur in the digestive system, or in other parts of the body. For example, one person might have diarrhea and abdominal pain, while another person may be irritable or depressed. In fact, irritability is one of the most common symptoms in children.
    Obviously, since so much growth and development crucial to human well being takes place in infancy and childhood, and since so much of that development hinges on proper nutritional absorption, any condition which hinders absorption is especially important diagnose and treat in the earliest possible stages.
    More specific symptoms of celiac disease may include one or more of the following:


    • behavioral changes
    • bone or joint pain
    • chronic diarrhea
    • delayed growth
    • failure to thrive in infants
    • fatigue
    • gas
    • infertility, recurrent miscarriage
    • itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis
    • missed menstrual periods (often because of excessive weight loss)
    • muscle cramps
    • osteoporosis, osteopenia
    • pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
    • pale sores inside the mouth, called aphthous
    • recurring abdominal bloating and pain
    • seizures
    • tingling numbness in the legs (from nerve damage)
    • tooth discoloration or loss of enamel
    • unexplained anemia (a low count of red blood cells causing fatigue)
    • weight loss / weight gain
    Screening for Celiac Disease
    A simple blood test can reveal high levels of anti-gliadin, anti-endomysium and anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies, and is often used for initial detection among people who are most likely to have the disease, and who may need further testing.
    For anyone with a family history of celiac disease or of disorders such as thyroid disease, anemia of unknown cause, type I diabetes or other immune disorders or Downs syndrome, doctors may suggest routine screening. Otherwise, patients are generally screened on a case-by-case basis according to individual symptoms.
    If a blood test for gluten antibodies is positive, your doctor will likely order a biopsy to confirm a diagnosis of celiac disease. A biopsy is where your doctor microscopically examines a small sample of intestinal tissue, looking for celiac associated damage to the small intestine.
    To get the sample, your doctor inserts an endoscope (a thin, flexible tube) into your mouth, down your esophagus and into your stomach and small intestine to take a small sample of intestinal tissue to look for damage to the villi (the tiny, hair-like projections in the walls the small intestine that absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients).
    Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance
    Many people with celiac disease are still screened using antiquated methods. After a positive serology test a patient might be given a biopsy (or not—depending on how high their antibody levels are—again elevated antibodies may mean gluten sensitivity), however, the pathologist who interprets the samples may not use the latest Marsh classification system to make the diagnosis, or they may use it but classify the samples incorrectly, any of which can lead to a missed diagnosis. Most people with gluten intolerance will never get tested at all, and if they do their results often end up in the "inconclusive" or grey area for the reasons discussed above. Consequently this undiagnosed or inconclusive group of people may miss out on discovering the simple and drug-free remedy of a gluten-free diet which will lead to a dramatic recovery for those with symptoms (many people with celiac disease or Non Celiac gluten sensitivity do not have any symptoms).
    For those who end up in the grey area of inconclusive test results, an elimination diet may be the only method to determine their problem. Many people discover that they have gluten intolerance only after they eliminate it from their diet. The more symptomatic the patient, the more obvious it will be when they eliminate gluten. For those with little or no symptoms this method may not work. Most elimination diets also exclude other common food allergens for several weeks such as soy, cows milk, corn, nuts, etc., and then the items are slowly added back to the diet while the patient pays close attention to any symptoms.

    Treatments for Celiac Disease
    There is presently no cure for celiac disease or Non Celiac gluten sensitivity, however, totally eliminating gluten from the diet leads to a full recovery in most cases, thus a 100% gluten-free diet is the standard treatment for celiac disease.
    To manage the disease and prevent complications, its essential to avoid all foods that contain gluten. People with celiac disease must avoid all foods made with wheat, rye, or barley. Including types of wheat like durum, farina, graham flour, and semolina. Also, bulgur, kamut, kasha, matzo meal, spelt and triticale. Examples of products that commonly contain these include breads, breading, batter, cereals, cooking and baking mixes, pasta, crackers, cookies, cakes, pies and gravies, among others.
    It is also important to avoid oats, at least during initial treatment stages of a gluten-free diet, this is because the effects of oats on celiac patients are not fully understood, and wheat contamination in processing is common. Thus, its safe to eliminate oats at least until symptoms subside and their reintroduction into the diet can be fairly monitored and evaluated. Avoid processed foods that may contain hidden gluten. Wheat flour is commonly used in many processed foods as a thickener or a binder.
    The good news is that by avoiding gluten your small intestine can and will begin to heal. Fortunately, the gut can and usually does heal. The majority of celiac disease and gluten intolerant patients who go on a gluten free diet experience a significant reversal of all symptoms and intestinal damage within year, and most begin to feel better within in a few days. In patients with severe damage the healing process may take years, and may require eliminating other offending foods from their diets in addition to gluten.
    Because the genetic makeup that leads to gluten intolerance cant be altered, a persons immune system will continue to react to gluten whenever it is ingested and the symptoms and problems will return if a person with celiac disease starts eating gluten again.
    health writer who lives in San Francisco and is a frequent author of articles for Celiac.com. 

    Wendy Cohan, RN
    Celiac.com 10/19/2009 - Gluten intolerance in the form of celiac disease (a hereditary autoimmune disorder) or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, may affect virtually any part of the body. In it’s involvement in multiple health disorders, gluten intolerance is a major driver of health care delivery and associated costs.  While this may seem to be an outrageous claim to make, a discussion of the many ways in which gluten intolerance can negatively affect the body can illustrate this point. So, let’s work our way down from the top…
    Normal, healthy hair is usually glossy and thick.  An autoimmune disorder known as alopecia areata results in abnormal loss of hair, either in patches, or total body hair-loss, and is one of many autoimmune disorders associated with celiac disease. Malabsorption severe enough to cause malnutrition can also result in thin, sparse, fragile hair. One of the outward signs of hypothyroidism is thinning hair and a loss of the outer third of the eyebrow; hypothyroidism is strongly associated with celiac disease.
    Now let’s look at the brain.  There are, unfortunately, a large number of neurological disorders associated with gluten intolerance and celiac disease, including narcolepsy, depression, ADD/ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and schizophrenia. There are also movement and balance disorders associated with gluten intolerance, including ataxia - the inability to coordinate movements and balance (gluten ataxia, celiac ataxia, some cases of sporadic idiopathic ataxia). In some cases, when symptoms are severe, this disorder mimics other disorders such as Parkinson’s, Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
    Headaches are a very common symptom of wheat allergy, as well as gluten intolerance.  Migraines are common in those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, as are sinus headaches.  These symptoms often decline dramatically after excluding gluten grains from the diet. Sinus problems are common in those with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and sensitivity to dairy products as well, and are often reversible by making dietary changes. Some people with celiac disease seem to have an altered, highly acute sense of smell – for unknown reasons.
    Night blindness associated with vitamin A deficiency is reversible when malabsorption is resolved and with the addition of a vitamin A supplement. Xeropthalmia, or chronic, often severe, dry eyes, is also related to severe vitamin A deficiency.  It is rare in developed countries, but can be found in some people with malnutrition due to celiac disease.
    Apthous stomatitis is the name for the mouth ulcers associated with food allergies and intolerances, and is strongly associated with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Even people who do not have gluten sensitivity get these once in a while but in those with gluten intolerance they are more frequent and especially long-lasting.  Dental enamel defects are strongly associated with celiac disease.  While they are usually identified in childhood, they can continue to cause problems throughout life, because they often lead to more frequent dental cavities.  Halitosis, or bad breath, is a reflection of our internal environment and gastrointestinal health, and is often present in those with untreated celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or gut dysbiosis – an upset in the balance of our internal microorganisms caused by poor diet and other factors. And, one of the autoimmune disorders strongly associated with celiac disease, and one of the most prevalent is Sjogren’s syndrome, which impairs the normal production of body fluids like tears, saliva, and vaginal secretions
    Following the path our food takes to the stomach, we can look for effects in the esophagus too.  Eosinophilic esophagitis is a rarely encountered inflammation in the tissue of the esophagus which makes swallowing painful and difficult and can result in bleeding ulcerations.  When doctors do see it, they sometimes test for celiac disease, since there is a strong correlation.  Fortunately, in cases where this condition is caused by gluten intolerance, this painful chronic disorder clears up on a gluten free diet, too.
    Now we’re getting to the area most people associate with gluten intolerance – the gastro-intestinal system. In the past, celiac disease was usually described as causing gas, diarrhea, bloating, discomfort, cramping, and malabsorption.  But as you’ve already seen above, there is a whole lot more to this disorder, and we’re only halfway to the toes.
    In addition to the above symptoms, the body’s reaction to gluten can cause inflammation anywhere, but a common location is in the illeo-cecal junction and the cecum. This can sometimes be confused with appendicitis, or ovarian pain or an ovarian cyst in women experiencing right-sided lower abdominal discomfort.  Irritable bowel syndrome is suspected to affect at least 10-15% of adults (estimates vary). It is differentiated from IBD, or inflammatory bowel disorders (which include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis). But, taken together, there are an awful lot of people out there with uncomfortable gut issues.  One fact to consider is that many of those with celiac disease were previously, and wrongly, misdiagnosed with IBS before discovering they actually had celiac disease.
    Let’s take a look at the urological system.  Even though gluten from the food we eat isn’t directly processed here, can it still be affected?  The answer is yes. Kidney problems in association with celiac disease are well documented, including oxalate kidney stones. Bladder problems are increasingly shown to be responsive to a gluten-free diet. This is kind of my specialty and I would estimate that about a quarter of those with interstitial cystitis, and many people with recurrent urinary tract infections, have a sensitivity to gluten. Even prostate inflammation in some men can be triggered by eating gluten grains.
    Sitting just atop the kidneys are our adrenal glands.  They have a difficult job, helping to direct our stress response system, our immune system, and our hormone output, and controlling inflammation in the body. Every time we experience a reaction to gluten, and our adrenals respond by sending out a surge of cortisol to help control inflammation, we are depleting our adrenal reserve.  When this happens chronically, over time, our adrenal system cannot keep up and becomes fatigued.  Symptoms of adrenal fatigue have far-reaching consequences throughout the body, including, of course, feeling fatigued and run down. But, adrenal fatigue can also affect our hormones, our blood sugar regulation, our mental acuity, our temperature regulation, and our ability to cope with food allergies, environmental allergies, and infections.
    Can the liver, the body’s largest internal organ, be affected by gluten intolerance too?  One example is autoimmune hepatitis, in which can be untreated celiac disease can be found in large numbers. Early screening testing for celiac disease is now strongly recommended for patients diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis.
    The pancreas, which is key in blood sugar regulation, is highly affected by gluten intolerance.  Autoimmune disease triggers the development of Type I DM, and is becoming more closely associated with celiac disease.  Testing for celiac disease is now becoming a routine part of examination when a child develops Type I DM, and now that physicians are looking for celiac disease in juvenile diabetes, they’re finding it with greater frequency. Blood sugar regulation problems are also associated with non-diabetes hypoglycemia in those affected by gluten intolerance and appear to resolve with a low-glycemic gluten free diet.
    So, we’ve covered most of the body’s major internal systems. Now, let’s look at the extremities, our upper and lower limbs, where gluten-associated problems are also found. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a collagen disorder resulting in shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints that dislocate easily (and other characteristics) is a genetic disorder that may also be associated with celiac disease.  I had mild symptoms of this disorder as a child, but never knew it had a name until I ran across it recently.  With a child who has this disorder, a simple game of swinging a child by the arms, or swinging a child between two sets of their parent’s arms, can result in a trip to the emergency to put their joints back into proper alignment. This is not to say that a reaction to gluten causes this genetic disorder, but that if you have a personal or family history of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and symptoms that may be related to celiac disease, you should consider being tested.
    Rheumatoid arthritis is another of the autoimmune disorders associated with celiac disease, and often affects the fingers with crippling joint deformation. Other joints in the body can also be affected. Scleroderma is another terribly disfiguring and sometimes fatal autoimmune disorder affecting every part of the body. It is often first identified in the extremities, particularly the fingers. In scleroderma, normal tissue loses it’s flexibility as the body’s autoimmune response produces inflammation and an overproduction of collagen.  Collagen is the tough fibrous protein that helps form connective tissues including tendons, bones, and ligaments. Excess collagen is deposited in the skin and body organs, eventually causing loss of function.  Scleroderma can be associated with celiac disease.
    The arms and legs are also common spots for yet another autoimmune disorder, psoriasis, to develop.  Some patients with psoriasis are responsive to a gluten-free diet, but unfortunately, not everyone. Another skin condition that often shows up on the arms is dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), although this itchy blistering skin rash can occur in other places as well.  Common sites are the backs of the elbows and the backs of the knees, or on the lower legs.
    Peripheral neuropathy is a disorder that results in numbness, tingling, and sometimes severe nerve pain in the extremities.  Finger, hands, toes, feet, and lower legs may all be affected. Although usually associated with diabetes, peripheral neuropathy shows up fairly frequently in those with celiac disease, and is fortunately reversible on a gluten free diet supplemented by B-vitamins and some specific amino acids.  Peripheral neuropathy is usually associated with older people, but some of the cases I’ve observed recently have been in very young children who had severe malabsorption issues.  Fortunately they healed quickly and their neuropathy symptoms resolved completely.
    There a few last symptoms related to malabsorption that tend to show up in those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.  Easy bruising and bleeding, either due to a deficiency of Vitamin K, or to an autoimmune platelet disorder, is one. Rickets, or osteomalacia – a softening of the bones in the legs related to vitamin D deficiency – is another. As we said before, inflammation goes along with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, and a common site for inflammation is the lower extremities.  Sometimes this can be profound, and trigger doctors to think heart disease, but it’s often unresponsive to Lasix and other diuretics. This condition, too, may also clear up on a gluten-free diet.
    As for me, I’ll be happy to be gluten-free, from head to toe.


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    So i recently had a baby and 3 months postpartum I started celery juicing and after juicing my stomach would be in so much pain. So I stopped it for a while and a whole month no pain or issues. I made an apt with a GI doctor to just get my blood work checked everything came back great except the Ema it was 1:20 he said it was strange because all the other Celiac panel test were negative my Ttg and the genetic screening even. So I made an apt with another doctor for second opinion she stated
    I am celiac and eat gluten-free, DF, SF and sunflower free because I'm highly reactive to all 4. I discovered about a year and a half ago that I would have severe and immediate GI reactions, similar to as if I ate dairy, to anything with sunflower/safflower products in it, but I think that's when using the oil became more prevalent too. Strange because I loved sunflower seeds as a kid. I've also linked it to places I've eaten out where everything was fine and then discovered they started using s
    So i recently had a baby and 3 months postpartum I started celery juicing and after juicing my stomach would be in so much pain. So I stopped it for a while and a whole month no pain or issues. I made an apt with a GI doctor to just get my blood work checked everything came back great except the Ema it was 1:20 he said it was strange because all the other Celiac panel test were negative my Ttg and the genetic screening even. So I made an apt with another doctor for second opinion she stated that
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