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tiredgradstudent

Is This Celiac Disease?

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I am a grad student, a wife, and a mom. Needless to say, I am busy. But for the last 5 years (when I was 19 - I am now 24), I have had gastrointestinal problems that no one can pinpoint.

For as long as I can remember, I have had constipation.

I started having bouts of nausea, bloating, and abdominal pain so severe that just the thought of food would make me want to vomit. I was initially diagnosed with gastroenteritis.

The symptoms didn't go away. They progressively began to last longer. The nausea was no longer as severe but it was constant. This time, I was given an endoscopy and colonoscopy. Nothing was found. I was diagnosed with acid reflux and told to avoid spicy things and caffeine.

The change in diet didn't help. Another trip to the doctor and I was given the diagnosis of lactose intolerance.

The symptoms were relatively constant and the multiple diagnoses just frustrated me. I gave up on the doctor and just decide to live with it (with a lot of tums, peto, and pain killers). I got married and had a son. The symptoms were about the same through the pregnancy.

When my son was 4 months old, I started having horrible migraines. Before the headache, I would not be able to see because a gray fog would descend on my visual fields. The doctor diagnosed them and gave me a description. It didn't seem to help the headaches - excedrine was much better.

Not long after that, I began having severe diarrhea. Twice I have had blood in my stool during these episodes. Thankfully, they do not come frequently.

When I got accepted into my doctoral program, I decided that I would do my best to stop my symptoms once and for all. My doctor tested my gallbladder (ultrasound and hida scan), my appendix (ultrasound), my ovaries (ultrasound), my liver functioning (blood test). After negative findings, I had a cat scan of my abdomen. Nothing was found. My doctor decided that it just must be IBS.

I moved to begin grad school and subsequently lost my health insurance (since I left my job). I am miserable. I want to feel normal again. I am always tired (which may be due to my lifestyle) and never feel normal. I am always queasy and constipated. I have never had normal periods and usually do not have any. In the last year, I have had 2 and they only last about a day.

I do not have health insurance, however, my university has a clinic that does not take insurance and the fees are minimal. If I get tested, I will do so through the university.

Does this sound like Celiac Disease? My grandmother and sister have hypothyroidism. Other than that, I do not believe that anyone has autoimmune diseases. I do not have a lot of money (I think grad students take a vow of poverty!) so I am trying to decide if I need to be tested.

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Hi, and welcome to the forum.

Yes, your history and symptoms sound like many of us on here; if you read around you will probably find your story many times over. The doctors all think of everything to test for but celiac disease. To rule that out (or in) what you need is a blood test consisting of the following:

Anti-Gliadin (AGA) IgA

Anti-Gliadin (AGA) IgG

Anti-Endomysial (EMA) IgA

Anti-Tissue Transglutaminase (tTG) IgA

Total Serum IgA

If this is positive they will probably recommend an endoscopy with biopsy checking for intestinal damage. I know you had an endoscopy but often the damage can only be seen under a microscope. You will find much discussion on here on whether or not the biopsy is really necessary, since that used to be the only way to diagnose celiac before the blood test was developed. There are many on here who have not even had the blood test, who just decided that gluten was their problem, found out it was, and could not bear the thought of going back on gluten fo 2-3 months to get tested.

Anyway, this is more than you need to know at this point, but you do need to get the blood test. Celiac is an autoimmune disease and celiacs often develop other autoimmune diseases, including hypothyroidism, so it is possible you have inherited the gene from your mother's side of the family.

Now, whether or not you wish to spend the money is your choice; you always can just try the diet and see if it works for you. There are many on here who are not happy without an official diagnosis, so it is strictly your choice. Just be aware that if the eliminate gluten and it helps you will not be happy about resuming eating it just to get tested because your reaction will likely be more severe.

Good luck on making a decision.

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