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What A Swell Party This Is!

Do you  wear paper cuts like medals of honor, because being a Celiac means not licking glue strips on envelopes? This morning I moistened the sealer on an envelope with a wet cloth and was soon reeling and swelling like a watermelon on growth hormones just from the fumes out-gassing.

The diet I follow does not mandate avoiding substances that are not ingested.  So while toothpaste would qualify for restriction, glue and play-dough would not.

Which is why historically, I paid little attention to the typical environmental gluten restrictions. I have been  very preoccupied with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity triggers, plastics, inks, pesticides, perfume and cleaning agents. Throw latex allergy into the mix and life is an on-going game of dodge ball :-(

No doctor or allergist ever advised me about the danger of non-food gluten  exposures. Today, following an envelope episode, I  got the wake up call and  began to research this. I learned what most of you probably know already--that Gluten exposures may be generated by the smell or touch of gluten.

My waistline will expand up to two inches from an exposure. I notice the smell of freshly baked bread and touching certain pills mean I am going to need to yell, "Lace me tighter, Mammy," like Scarlett O'Hara did sixty-nine years ago in the film "Gone With the Wind."

As I read more about
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non-food items containing gluten what I experienced was confirmed.  Glue on "lick-able"  envelopes and stamps can be culprits. Self-stick labels and stickers may contain gluten. Latex or rubber gloves  are often dusted with wheat or oat flour. Since I am allergic to the gloves themselves, its not a problem I've encountered. My, dentist uses non powdered vinyl gloves when he treats me.

Gluten hides in art supplies, and materials like the aforementioned play dough. It lurks in many personal items such as lipstick, lip balm, sunscreen, shampoos, soaps, cosmetics, skin lotions, toothpaste, and mouthwash. Fortunately, over time I have isolated friendly cosmetic products and soap but by trial and error.

Since household products such as cleaning solutions, detergents, even bar soap may contain gluten, I'm beginning to think what I believed was provoking Multiple Chemical Sensitivity reactions is primarily due to being Celiac.  I might never known had I not subscribed to this list.

Medications frequently contain gluten. Pills get dusted with flour during manufacturing so they won't "clump" and capsules may have gluten hiding in the oil inside. I am one lucky lady as our city's most skillful compounding pharmacist is located less than a mile away, and even provides free delivery service.

Meanwhile there is quite an obstacle course spiked with gluten land mines for me and other Celiac to navigate if we don't want to be guests of honor at that "swell party"

As always, welcomes your comments (see below).

Spread The Word

4 Responses:


said this on
07 Jan 2008 10:45:47 PM PST
I knew about the envelopes and suffer the nightly swell party. Its hard to walk through the mall without getting a headache or stomachache. I didn't know about some of the school supplies. I home school 3 boys and get exposed to a lot. Thank you for sharing more info. It always helps.


said this on
10 Jan 2008 6:03:20 PM PST
For cleaning product ideas, you may want to check our Deidre Imus' book 'Green This' which has some good old fashioned/organic, non-27 letter-chemical suggestions for household cleaning products that actually work. Simple cheap stuff like baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, the stuff grandma used. Good ideas for anybody, not just celiacs. Good for our planet too since they are biodegradable.

denise quinn

said this on
12 Jan 2008 10:21:20 AM PST
I found it very educational and informative I have recently learned that I have celiac disease and have struggled following the diet I found that I have swelling in my stomach and get headaches and nausea often I think its very hard to accept and adjust from things you've eaten all your life.


said this on
05 Apr 2010 3:19:27 PM PST
This is my story. I have celiac and my gut swells up and I'm in pain (as though I've eaten bread) from hairsprays or from most pharmaceutical cosmetics. When I handle envelopes I always wash my hands afterward. It took a very long time to make the connection. I always thought I was getting glutened through food somehow.

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