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Possible to have both Wheat Allergy and Gluten Intolerance?

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Marathoner/Cyclist/UltraRunner 36 year old female 

I have had neurological symptoms for many years that have slowly gotten worse as I've gotten older of, what I believe to be, Gluten Intolerance.  Namely: anxiety and depression (I never sought an official diagnosis because I didn't want to be medicated), ADHD/bad short-term memory (My mom said that I've always "just been like that"), brain fog and extreme fatigue/naps ("It's because you're getting older, haha drink more caffeine, quit running so much," etc), occasional migraines ("It's hereditary"), and, more recently, joint pain ("You need to quit running and get more rest").

I have a tip-top diet eating LOTS of fresh organic green vegetables, fruits, whole grains, eggs, quinoa, seafood, chicken, limited dairy, and I take the right supplements for my activity level. I have never displayed irritable bowel with gluten but I did have more unstable bathroom habits while on training runs.

After being so frustrated with my fading energy levels and brain fog, I did tons of Googling of my symptoms that apparently only *I* thought were concerning. I began to suspect a Vitamin B12 deficiency was to blame for my lethargy. I began to supplement with sublingual B12 and it seemed to help but I was super-confused as to why I wasn't absorbing B12 from my diet which was plentiful in B12. 

After a bout with the flu this last winter, I suddenly developed a sort of whole-body rash that would develop after each and every training run. It was a strange rash because it happened right after finishing a run, and broke out primarily on my elbows, knees, buttocks, abdomen, and sometimes my neck and face. The bumps were more like HIVES, raised, sometimes as wide as an inch, and itchy. My airway was never affected and so I kind of tolerated it for awhile, thinking it was a strange phase.  When it didn't go away, I started Googling again. I came up with something called "food-dependant, exercise induced anaphylaxis." One of the triggers of FDEIA was wheat. And when I looked more into the multiple symptoms of gluten intolerance, a big fat lightbulb clicked on in my head. 

All of the troublesome symptoms that I was blaming on age and running and heredity matched up pretty darn well with WHEAT. I immediately experimented by cutting wheat out of my diet completely and within 1-2 weeks, my annoying symptoms were gone, I felt rested, clearer minded, with a brighter mood. The post-exercise rash went away.

I began thinking about trying to get an official diagnosis (am I gluten sensetive? intolerant? allergic? celiac?). When I learned that I would have to go back on wheat for awhile to get a diagnosis I decided to just live wheat-free without the diagnosis, however, part of me really wants to know!

Is it possible to be both allergic to (post-exercise hives) and intolerant to (brain fog, adhd, fatigue, loose bowels, joint pain, anxiety) wheat?

Thanks for any insight!!~~~~~~~~

For the record, I ate pizza about a week ago just because.....and while nothing significant happened after I ate, I broke out in a horrible hivey rash the very next time I went on a run. Bodies are strange!

Edited by MistyW

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Hi, yes, you can have an allergy and a food intolerance.  Allergies are IgE immune reactions, food intolerances are IgA or IgG immune reactions.  You can get tested for allergies with a skin prick test.

They test for celiac disease with a blood test first, and then an endoscopy later.

The celiac blood tests are:




Ttg IgA

Total serum  IgA

Each of these antibody tests have a range of possible values that varies by the lab.  You need the ranges to interpret the test results.

The 2nd test is the endoscopy where they take 4 to 6 small biopsy samples of the small intestine lining.  Then they check the biopsies with a  microscope for damage characteristic of celiac disease.

There is also the DH (dermatitis herpetiformis) test.  DH is a skin rash that only people with celiac disease get.  They test for it by taking a small skin biopsy from next to a lesion.  DH tends to appear in a symmetrical pattern on both elbows, butt cheeks, knees etc.  DH can be very itchy also.

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I would really suggest following up with GFinDC suggestion and get tested for celiac. Your complaints about the fatigue, joint issues, fog, anxiety, depression and worsening ADHD are all things I used to get in highschool way before my diagnosis. See about starting the gluten challenge of eating it daily for 8-12 weeks and getting the blood test. If you feel it will interfere with your life, try taking like a tsp or 2 of vital wheat gluten before bed and trying to sleep it off.

Knowing the issue will be a big relieve and will help with sticking more strictly to the diet and getting support from family and doctors about the diet.

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Others have given you good advice with regard to getting screened/diagnosed, but I wanted to chime in since I am a fellow "serious" runner. I spent much of my teens/early 20s training at a high level with increasingly intrusive symptoms, much like you described. I normalized a lot of it for years, but got to a breaking point where I simply couldn't any more.

I think within the running community, IBS-like symptoms (constantly having to stop to poop on the run) are normalized, so I didn't think much of this - never had diarrhea, just high volume, fatty stools. Since being on a GFD, I have not had to stop to poop once while running, except on occasions where I have poisoned myself. My workouts/long runs are >2hrs in length. I also had a number of stress fractures and issues with iron deficiency/anemia, which were also overlooked because they are "normal" in elite female runners. I also experienced creaky/stiff joints, but didn't realize this until later when they stopped being that way.

What really broke me was the odd fatigue symptoms I would have. I would be in the best shape of my life, then do a random harder effort (eg. race, track workout) and be bedridden for a week. I could not convince anyone that I was not overtraining. Eventually, I learned to sandbag workouts/races to avoid having this happen, which was frustrating to do as someone who is competitive.

I also get a rash, which is worsened by sweating and friction - sports bra seams, armpits, shorts seams. It does appear elsewhere, but these are the hot spots. At its worst, I had to stop sometimes on runs to scratch because it was so unbearably itchy. At first I thought it was an allergy to detergent or perhaps a bacterial/fungal issue, but the rash was unresponsive to addressing those issues.

Unfortunately, despite my rather suspicious symptoms, the GPs I saw did not elect to test me for celiac disease. I accidentally discovered that gluten appeared to be causing my issues while doing a supervised elimination diet (for food allergies/intolerances). At that point, I had been gluten-free too long for a reliable test, and couldn't bear subjecting myself to the gluten challenge to confirm celiac disease/DH officially (in part because of the psychological symptoms that gluten ingestion seemed to elicit). This is not a pathway I would recommend if you can avoid it - get tested for celiac disease now while you still can.

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    • I just saw the ear doctor though and he didn't say anything  
    • I was diagnosed with Celiac in July of 2016. 

      I had an endoscopy in April of this year, the damage seemed to be very minimal (On a scale from 0 to 5, five being the worst and 0 being healthy, I was a 1.) and the doctor told me I'm healing.... If I'm still healing...why do I still hurt SO BAD? It doesn't matter what I eat, rice, rice pasta, fruits, vegetables, I'm always in major pain and I'm always EXTREMELY BLOATED, and I spend all day burping and in burning, uncomfortable pain.

      If I'm healing, why am I still sick? My gut hurts SO BAD and my life is a literal LIVING HELL, i can't even drink water without severe bloating and pain. I've been severely constipated for months now and the laxatives don't really seem to be working. The doctor wants my intestines to heal before he does anything else... so he's going to to do another endoscopy in a year.... I really don't want to wait around an entire YEAR before they do anything else, my gut hurts so bad I haven't even been able to look for a job, every day is a battle to live.

      Any suggestions on how to help this? I'm so sick and tired of living in severe pain.
    • Brandi1969, Carbs/Sugars as they break down ferment turning into gases causing your bloating quoting Ennistx verbatim and I agree! You can try going low CARB aka Keto or try taking some BetaineHCL to stoke up your digestive fires. I will provide some links that list simple home tests and one that provides doctor supervised testing. Bloating is common with Low Stomach acid. See this ChateLaine article. https://www.chatelaine.com/health/diet/bloated-low-stomach-acid-may-be-the-cause/ The easiest way to do this at home though least scientific way is the Baking Soda test to see if you burp from it. See this article that list 5 ways to test your stomach acid levels including medical tests to confirm what the baking soda tests indicates. https://drjockers.com/5-ways-test-stomach-acid-levels/ If you fail the baking soda test the easiest self testing is to try taking some BetaineHCL to see if it helps your bloating.  I suggest 3 or 4 BetaineHCL capsules with a glass or two of water (or tea/juice if you prefer) after you have begun eating.  It should not be soda because soda's will burp on their own from carbonation. 3 or 4 at  meal is not as high you think it might be. .. it tends to be in the goldilocks zone of not being too little . ..but not too much either. See this article about the simple test of using BetaineHCL for low stomach acid. http://hansacenter.com/simple-at-home-test-for-low-stomach-acid/ quoting read the whole article and these other links when you get a chance. . .but I am highlighting the high points. quoting below from the hansacenter "To perform this (baking soda) test: mix one quarter teaspoon of baking soda in eight ounces of cold water, first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything except water. Drink the baking soda solution. Time how long it takes to belch. Time up to five minutes. If you have not belched within five minutes stop timing anyway. If your stomach is producing adequate amounts of hydrochloric acid you should probably belch within two to three minutes. Early and repeated belching may be due to excessive stomach acid. Belching results from the acid and baking soda reacting to form carbon dioxide gas. The Heidelberg or Gastrocap tests can be employed for confirmation of the results of this test. I also look for signs and symptoms of low stomach acid. There are many laboratory test indicators of this condition. Some of these include deficiencies of amino acids, minerals, B vitamins, (My words Vitamin D, Magnesium, Iron, B-12 etc.) and, on digestive analysis, elevated levels of putrefactive short chain fatty acids in the stool. I like to have patients (clinician at hanasacenter) do a therapeutic trial with supplemental betaine HCL. (hydrochloric acid) If you take Betaine HCL after a meal and feel nothing, your stomach is probably not producing enough hydrochloric acid. A normal response to taking betaine HCL is a feeling of warmth in the stomach. For an individual whose hydrochloric acid levels are lacking, I have them gradually work up to supplementing as many as 5 Betaine HCL capsules after meals. Although this may sound like a lot, in response to a very big meal, a healthy stomach produces the equivalent of at least 14 betaine HCL capsules. For optimal results, the protein digesting enzyme, pepsin, should be part of the betaine HCL formulation." I hope this is helpful but It is  not medical advice. I used to take BetaineHCL capsules to improve my digestion because my stomach acid was not strong to digest carbs fast enough to keeep them from fermenting into gases causing severe bloating. If this works right you can taper off the BetaineHCL capsules after a few months. Here are two reference works on this topic.  Low stomach acid is known as Hypochloridia and NO stomach acid is known as Achloridia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4991651/ notice their figure one about how fast the patient felt better after beginning to take BeatineHCL capsules. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4991651/figure/f1-49-53/?report=objectonly Also see this research theorizing why we develop low stomach acid in first place leading to severe bloating if left untreated. http://orthomolecular.org/library/jom/2001/articles/2001-v16n04-p225.shtml good luck on your continued journey. ***** Again this is not medical advice but I hope it is helpful. I only know it helped me. As always “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things” 2 Timothy 2:7 this included. Posterboy by the grace of God,  
    • Has he had his vitamin and mineral levels checked?  We can be low vitamin D, B's, iron etc.  All those vitamin deficiencies add up to problems with the body healing and maintaining itself.  
    • Ok, I’ll try a probiotic. I already avoid dairy and soy. Hopefully it will help. Thanks!
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