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Outnumbered - Celiac Disease and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
- By Carol Frilegh
- Published 01/11/2008
Over seven decades, I've won once at roulette, once on the slots and asked someone at the racetrack to put down my two dollars on a thirty three to one shot- - - a filly with the same name as my poodle. The horse won but the friend forgot to place the wager. What was even worse, subsequently the poodle ran away and died from eating garbage. With health matters, bookmakers would have a blast with me.
The National Institutes of Health reports that one of every 133 Americans has celiac disease. Only a small fraction have been diagnosed and Americans are not routinely screened for celiac disease.
Food allergies affect almost four percent of North Americans.
A surprising number of people report sensitivity to ordinary everyday chemicals. The figures range from an average of eleven to seventeen percent, with spikes as high as thirty percent of subjects who report reactions to multiple chemical incitants.
Reports about the prevalence of latex allergy vary greatly. This variation is probably due to different levels of exposure and methods for estimating latex sensitization or allergy. Recent reports in the scientific literature indicate that from about 1% to 6% of the general population and about 8% to 12% of regularly exposed health care workers are sensitized to latex.
It's a home run and then some! I'm batting, or battling four out of four and am not alone. I have noticed various health support lists have their own quota of unfortunates afflicted with the quadruple whammy. I checked some gluten-free forums and noted many respondents reporting assorted sensitivities were also following gluten-free diets.
"Rachel" reported from the Gluten-Free Celiac Disease Forum (www.glutenfreeforum.com), "Yes...I have chemical sensitivities. Its better since gluten-free but the sensitivities are still there...it gets worse or better according to my diet which I'm still trying to figure out. I've been gluten-free for
Chemical sensitivities have many symptoms such as light-headedness, fatigue, headaches, and recurrent illnesses that have no other explanation. Reactions may vary widely from one person to another but the treatment for all is avoidance. Direct contact with the substance is not always required to cause a reaction. It is a difficult sensitivity to pin down, and may require close and prolonged observation to make the connections. Irritants lurk just about anywhere — carpets, laser printer toners, housing insulation, household cleaners, etc. Those affected often have to practice complete avoidance of many common substances.
Tests have been developed for some of the aforementioned four conditions.
Dr. Scot Lewey, a contributor to this board has written, "Those with known pollen or latex allergies, any known food allergies or intolerance including gluten intolerance (celiac disease) and casein intolerance, are asked to complete a series of symptoms assessment and severity rating scales followed by a strict elimination diet. This is followed up by re-assessment of response of symptoms while re-introducing foods one at a time while monitoring for recurrence."
Regarding multiple chemical sensitivities, which were not recognized by my physicians (who sent me to a psychiatrist), I received this nebulous diagnosis from the Environmental Illness Clinic at Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center: "Ideopathic Environmental Illness" (meaning "cause unknown.")
After "cherry picking" the Internet in search of the likelihood that celiac disease, multiple chemical sensitivities, latex allergy and food sensitivity can go hand in hand. In time I untangled and managed to detach my celiac symptoms and isolated a typical and definite reaction to grain and lactose.
One thing is certain, I am outnumbered! I feel under attack by a chain gang. And they are an elusive aggregation because what bothers me one day may not on another.
Presidential candidates are not the only ones who want change!
As always, Celiac.com welcomes your comments (see below).
I am 79 an undiagnosed Celiac, since March 2000. I had chronic sinus infections and fluctuating weight, lost 86 pounds, got pneumonia, and needed antibiotic and Prednisone. I also got MCS and Latex Allergy. Unable to eat without pain, I started The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). Things began to improve at once. I am not cured but SCD has been effective in managing the Celiac and helped improve my damaged immune system. It is a bit stricter than the gluten-free casein-free diet.
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