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Grace Under Fire

Cold And Flu Symptoms And Celiac Disease

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I was fortunate to have heard a radio broadcast earlier today which discussed the relationship between cold and flu symptoms and the presence of the virus itself. The information discussed there has great impact for those dealing with Celiac Disease and /or Gluten Sensitivity. I would like to share that information in the context of the understanding that those with gluten related problems are dealing with an auto-immune disorder.

For us (Celiacs) the immune system is overactive resulting in a great increase in inflammation over all body systems. So the typical advice to boost the immune system at the time of getting a cold flu is questionable.

The broadcast made clear that new research about colds and the flu was showing that the virus itself DOES NOT PRODUCE THE SYMPTOMS. Apparently, many people who do not APPEAR to have a cold or the flu have the virus present but have no symptoms. The symptoms of coughing, sneezing, aching and tiredness are now being seen as being produced by the body itself in response to the presence of the virus.

In other words the symptoms are caused by the body's "immune response" to the presence of the virus. That response produces the inflammation of the nasal passages, the bronchial tubes, the lungs, and the sinuses. Once inflamed the tissues become very reactive and coughing, sore throats, sinus headaches begin. The new research seems to be showing that in those people without immune system induced inflammation, cold and flu symptoms either do not appear or are minimal.

So in the case of those with already overactive immune systems as occurs in Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity there appears to already be a high amount of inflammation going on all the time. The amount of inflammation in the Celiac seems to relate to the degree to which the person on the gluten free diet is actually exposed to gluten. The more exposure, accidental or otherwise, the greater the immune response, followed by an increase in inflammation. The heightened state of inflammation in the Celiac would produce more cold and flu SYMPTOMS. The virus,therefore should not be the focus of the healing. Reduction of inflammation should be the focus.

It would appear therefore, that for those with either Celiac Disease, or Gluten Sensitivity, immune system boosters such as Echinecea, or other immune related herbs should not be used as it is very likely that would boost the immune system further and stimulate more inflammation and symptoms.

Soothing soups and hot water with lemon juice can help flush out the virus without overcharging the immune system.

Please note that the broadcast discussed only those issues relating to the difference between the actual virus and the symptoms produced by INFlAMMATION. It did not discuss or draw any conclusions about the relationship of the inflammation and symptoms to Celiac disease. All of those conclusions are completely my own, based on my own research and understanding of the mechanisms of Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity.

I wrote this in the hope that anyone who read it might discuss with their doctor the advisability of focusing on reducing inflammation rather than boosting immune respose when they had a cold.

Thank you for reading my post.

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Thanks for the post!

gluten-free 2 months only, and I think I screwed up in there recently, and I'm also just getting over a nasty flu. Funny thing is that I got the intestinal pain I used to have 90% of the time when I was sick. (Still have some now actually.) I was very worried that the gluten I may have eaten caused the flu symptoms. It seemed kinda perposterous at first, either I got a virus that's affecting my body, or I didn't, right? But it looks like it could have just been it all along. Never knew that I could have caught a 'new flu' but not actually get sick.


diagnosed Jan 2012, bloodwork only

June 2012 positive visual of celiac disease from gastroscopy

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