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Did You Take Off Work When Undergoing Your Challenge?

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Hi, I've been going back and forth about getting tested for celiacs for about a year now (my symptoms started about a year ago and I've been gluten free since last August) but my main concern is that I'd be unable to work during the period of time that I am undergoing the gluten challenge. 

 

Did you take off work for the challenge?

 

How long of a challenge did you do? I've heard all different time frames, anywhere from 2 weeks to 12. I can't imagine doing 12, I wasn't even sick the first go around for 12 full weeks and it took my intestines about 4 months to heal afterwards :( 

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For the blood tests, you'll need a gluten challenge between 8-12 weeks of 1-2 slices of bread per day (or equivalent). The general feeling is that if you eat 2+ slices, you could go for the shorter challenge, and if you only eat 1 slice, you should do it for 3 months.

 

For the endoscopy biopsy, doctors usually want a gluten challenge of 2-4 weeks but I've seen doctors ask for 6 or more weeks on gluten.

 

I did not do a gluten challenge but tested when I was still eating gluten.  I did need to take the occasional day off when a migraine got to be too much or when I became ill, but that was it.

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I timed mine so that it was a time of year when I could work from home for a few weeks. I realize that not everyone has that option, but I don't know how I ever would have gotten through it otherwise. I basically got up early and didn't eat anything until after I'd worked (with a somewhat-clear head) for four or five hours. Then I ate something with gluten and felt awful the rest of the day. If gluten doesn't cause insomnia for you it might work best to eat it at night and sleep off the worst of it, but I was literally up all night and unable to sleep when I did that, so I found it better to go through the worst in the afternoon and hope for at least a few hours of sleep at night.

Keep in mind that severity of symptoms may not correlate with test results in the way you'd expect. I felt so sick with just one slice of bread most days that after a while I stopped trying to force myself to eat two. Handfuls of hair started falling out in the shower and I drenched my sheets many times a night with night sweats, I walked into walls many times a day, and a bunch of other really unpleasant stuff. My GI and I both fully expected my biopsies to be positive after six weeks of this, especially with a daughter who'd just been diagnosed. But nope! Now we're not sure if my gluten challenge wasn't long enough, they didn't do a thorough enough endoscopy, or I truly do have severe NCGS or something else instead of celiac. I seriously regret putting myself through this the way I did, as it set me back for many months. I wish I'd either done a longer challenge, forced myself to eat two full slices of bread every single day for the six weeks I did it, or never done it in the first place. Going through that and not even getting a clear answer in the end is extremely frustrating. I hope you don't find yourself in that situation! But if it is possible to do something creative with your work schedule while doing the challenge, I'd highly recommend it.

Before deciding on any timeframe, make sure you have a doctor who will run the tests at the end date! It would be even more awful to go through it for nothing.

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My Celiacs was found by "accident"--they were testing for something else and threw in this test because I have a niece with Celiacs.  I don't really have symptoms other than a lot of D.  I'm glad I didn't have to do a challenge because it sounds horrible!

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