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Sensitivity Levels Among Us

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When I was diagnosed with celiac disease 2 years ago I was told I was "lucky" because I can feel the effects of gluten when I ingest it. My dietician told me there are many celiacs who have no symptoms from gluten and that can be even more dangerous because it still damages the body.

What are your thoughts on this?

How come some with Celiac Disease react to trace amounts of gluten and others don't?

Do we all have the same amount of damage in our bodies because we all have the same disease, regardless of our varied reaction levels?

There is so much I still don't know.

I've suffered from intestinal problems since childhood.

Age 30--I was told I had IBS and that I'd just have to "get used to it".

Age 33--I went wheat-free and felt a little better.

Age 36--A friend was diagnosed with celiac disease and recommended that I get tested too. I demanded a test even though the doctor assured me I did "not want it". Test was positive and I have been gluten free ever since.

Age 37 and Counting--I never would have guessed my body could feel this great! :)

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Latent or silent celiacs can be suffering just as much damage to their bodies as those who have raging GI symptoms. Not everybody expresses their intolerance through the digestive tract. Some have only neurological symptoms and have migraines and gluten ataxia and are diagnosed even with MS. Some just end up with Hashimoto's thyroiditis or diabetes. Some of us have milder digestive symptoms that are dismissed for a lifetime as IBS and we end up with such things as psoriatic arthritis (me) and it is too late for a gluten free diet to reverse it.

Those with GI symptoms are more likely to recognize a reaction to trace amounts of gluten, but GI reactions vary greatly in their intensity. Those whose symptoms are not expressed that way do not get that sharp warning. That is why you were told you were lucky. It is not possible to quantify the amount of damage to our bodies caused by gluten, because we are still learning the ways in which gluten damages our bodies. There is so much still to know.


"Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted." - Albert Einstein

"Life is not weathering the storm; it is learning to dance in the rain"

"Whatever the question, the answer is always chocolate." Nigella Lawson


Caffeine free 1973

Lactose free 1990

(Mis)diagnosed IBS, fibromyalgia '80's and '90's

Diagnosed psoriatic arthritis 2004

Self-diagnosed gluten intolerant, gluten-free Nov. 2007

Soy free March 2008

Nightshade free Feb 2009

Citric acid free June 2009

Potato starch free July 2009

(Totally) corn free Nov. 2009

Legume free March 2010

Now tolerant of lactose

Celiac.com - Celiac Disease Board Moderator

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Hi SuperMolly,

Thanks for asking this question. I am one of those with Celiac who does not experience significant symptoms. I rely on others to tell me if certain products are safe. Otherwise, I have no way of knowing. For example, I am told that 90 percent of Celiacs can eat gluten-free oats, but I do not dare try them. How would I know if I am sensitive to them?

I do know that regardless of symptoms I still am damaging myself by eating gluten. This has raised another question in my mind... Are symptoms and damage even related? What about all of those who do experience symptoms when eating gluten? If they eat small enough amounts that they do not experience symptoms, does that necessarily mean that the amounts are low enough that they are not doing damage?

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