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desperateforhealth

How Long Should I Wait Before Giving Up On The Gluten-Free Diet?

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I am a young adult who's been struggling with substantial gas/discomfort after every meal and somewhat frequent stomach upsets for about a year and a half now (I was taking the antibiotic doxycycline for the first year, and I thought my stomach problems would go away after I quit it, but it's been six months since I quit and they haven't gotten any better. I took probiotics for a short time but they didn't seem to help much.) I will do whatever it takes to put a stop to it! I would be fine to wait around if I thought my stomach might get better on it's own, but it's not looking that's going to happen, and I want to figure out what the problem is before I get a roommate who might be bothered by my various problems. I've tried looking for patterns and keeping track of what I eat, but I've never been able to discern whether I am sensitive to a certain food more than others because one week it may cause an upset stomach and the next week it doesn't affect me at all.

I have not been tested with celiac/gluten intolerance yet because of how expensive the test is, and nobody in my family has ever been tested/diagnosed, but stomach problems are pretty common in my family.

For a while I thought I was lactose intolerant so I took lactate with any dairy products but it never really made a difference, the problems continued. So, last week, I went gluten (and casein) free, because I read up on gluten intolerance/sensitivity/celiac's, and my symptoms seemed to fit pretty well. The first couple of days I felt a little better, although I did show some symptoms of gluten withdrawal, which I have thoroughly researched. But now I am experiencing worse digestion than before. I know that's it's very early in the game and I am going to go ahead and assume that this is just part of the detoxing process, so I guess my only question is this:

If my gas and stomach upsets continue, how long should I stay gluten-free before giving up on the possibility of being gluten intolerant/sensitive? Also, should I be concerned that my problems have gotten worse since I quit gluten?

I am also worried that if I am not gluten intolerant/sensitive, I could be making my stomach worse by going gluten-free. Is that possible?

Thank you so much for your time! I'm tired of being perpetually concerned with what my stomach is doing, and I appreciate any and all help.

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It can take years, honestly though I'd give it at least 12 months, some of my symptoms (painful mouth ulcers) have only just gone away and I have been gluten-free for 12 months.

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I would suggest to give it at least 2-3 months, and see if perhaps you don't have fewer issues as time goes on. I believe it's not unusual for some people to have things get worse initially, though perhaps others will add their perspective on that. You said you'd tried probiotics at one time and they didn't help, perhaps you could try digestive enzymes or an HCL (stomach acid) supplement to assist with digestion, at least initially.

Also, if you are not gluten intolerant / sensitive, no you won't be making your stomach worse by going gluten-free for a short time. Hope you figure it out and feel better soon!

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Did u say you were on antibiotics for 1 year? Antibiotics can mess up the balance of bacteria in your digestive track. So ur discomfort may be stemming from that.

The test for celiac is simply a blood test. Is it really too much $?

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Hello, and welcome to the forum.

It is confusing at first because sometimes the symptoms of gluten intolerance and lactose intolerance can be very similar. The only way to tell is to cut out both for a week or two and then try drinking a glass of milk or eating ice cream. If you are lactose intolerant you should notice a response quite soon to that. Gluten sensitivity can destroy the lining of the small intestine where the enzyme to digest lactose (the milk sugar) is made, and it takes a while for the area to heal and start prodoucing the enzyme again. However, some people are also intolerant to the casein (the protein) in milk and the ability to digest that often doesn't return. You can test this out by eating some cheese or whey protein powder in a smoothie for example, or just by butter on your toast.

I would guess about 50% of posters report going through a withdrawal from gluten -- you initially feel good and then you start feeling really bad, as bad as you do when you quit smoking. If you are one of those it can last for 2-3 weeks until you get over the hump. So stick with it and don't give in.

If you have others with stomach issues in your family then is is likely that gluten is the culprit. It is a pity you cannot afford the testing because you do need to be eating gluten in order for the testing to give valid results because the tests measure antibodies in the blood and the scope with biopsy measures the damage in the small intestene. Once you start to heal (after a couple of weeks) the antibodies retreat and the healing starts and it is too late for testing except in the most severe of cases where they sometimes still test positive six months later. If you later decided you wanted testing you would have to go back on gluten for 2-3 months for a valid result and most people do not make it through this gluten-eating period, because once you stop eating gluten unfortunately your reaction to it can become much more severe. So the testing idea is kind of a 'now or never' prospect. If you feel you will not second-guess yourself and can stick to the diet without really KNOWING, then that is not a problem. I have never had any testing :)

One other thing - sometimes when you have a food sensitivity your reaction to it depends to a great extent on what you eat it with. If you eat it by itself you will get more of a reaction. If you eat pizza with everything - sausage, mushrooms, pepperoni, olives, peppers, tomato, dripping with mozzarella, you may not notice the crust affect you quite so much. That was my case - pizza used to be my comfort food :D

If you have further questions, don't be shy about asking :)

As your gut heals you will probably need to give it a bit of a helping hand. Probiotics are practically mandatory for someone who has been on antibiotics for a year. I still take them. And for the first two years I took digetive enzymes too (and still do occasionally). Gluten is a sneaky little b****r and invades all parts of our bodies, including the pancreas, which can greatly reduce its production of digestive enzymes, and that is just what your poor gut does not need - it needs all the help it can get. So I would recommend taking both of those. A good quality multivitamin and multimineral would be good to add too, because you have probably not been absorbing the regularl nutrients from your damaged intestines and since you cannot afford testing I would for now just do two good multis, and perhaps a sublingual B 12 to protect your bones (B12 is a vitamin we are all often very low on).

There is no way that any of the above is going to make any other condition that you potentially might have worse, so don't be concerned. For someone who is not sensitive to gluten, eating gluten free makes no difference. Whole families eat gluten free when one or two family members have celiac, without any ill effects. So if it turns out that after three months you have not noticed any improvement you will not have interfered with anything else.

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maximoo- My discomfort definitely has something to do with the antibiotics, I think, but I've consulted a nurse (the parent of a friend) who says that six months should have been long enough for my gut to recover from a loss of bacteria, so now I am seeking a different source.

mushroom- Thank you so much for your extensive response. I will indeed stick with it.

If I eventually see a change, I will have no problem with not ever really knowing. I do wish I knew NOW so that I don't have false hope of getting better when it might not be gluten, but if I can find a way to make my stomach better it won't matter to me whether I've had it officially diagnosed.

I am definitely inclined to take probiotics to help my stomach heal--BUT I've heard some rumors about it being a bad idea to take them for an extended period of time--is that true? I guess the danger is the possibility of the stomach becoming dependent on them/unable to produce those bacteria on its own? Do you think there's any real danger of that? I have some acidophilus tablets that I would be more than happy to take if I wasn't shy of possibly hurting my stomach. I already regret the antibiotics, I just don't want to screw it up more.

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It took me at least 4 weeks, and that was after I stopped eating oats. Oats were giving me stomach pains still even though they were gluten free. But I would try it for at least 6 months - 12 months. I know for me everytime I get glutened it takes me 2-5 weeks now to recover again...so if you aren't being extremely careful that could be some of the problem too.

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In response to your concern that cutting gluten even if you don't have celiac would be harmful-- people don't need gluten. Many places of the world don't eat wheat, remember. Areas of the world eat primarily rice, some primarily corn, etc. and the huge overuse of wheat is hugely American. You need fiber if you take out your grains, which can be attained from veggies and fruits, nuts and whole foods. I agree with the probiotics and you may need a higher count or multiple strain variety of probiotic, to regain the balance to your gut. I was just diagnosed with celiac two weeks ago so i am by no means an expert, however I fully believe that my celiac began/was activated from the stress of an abdominal surgery I had 5 years ago, at which time I had 8 days of strong IV antibiotics followed by another 8 weeks of oral antibiotics. I didn't know a lot about probiotics then, and none of my drs advised me to use them-- it was only a few weeks later that I saw my midwife for the mother of all yeast infections, and she said honey, we have to get you some probiotics ASAP. I learned a lot about them, and give them to my kids daily for immunity as well, have been giving them about 3 years straight. They are not a drug, just a good bacteria. You cannot take them too long. I currently take Renew Life brand, which sells high dose critical care probiotics you may look into, and start there to repair the damage to your gut from the year long antibiotic use.

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mushroom - Thank you, I will take a look at that!

Metoo - Thanks very much I was thinking about trying oats but I will avoid them at least until I can figure out what I am or am not sensititve.

Mom-of-two -That's extremely helpful as well, thank you! I will definitely be looking into taking probiotics reguarly now.

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