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TheIntern

Went Gluten-Free - I Feel So Much Better.

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So, here's the story. I've been just sickly for about 8 months now. I thought it was everything from a very hardy cold to fibromyalgia. My boyfriend thinks I'm a hypochondriac, but I KNOW there is something wrong with me. I don't have the option of going to any kind of specialist (no insurance) so the best I can do is my school's health clinic. They are quacks. Seriously - they would hardly even listen to me. They said it was indigestion, menstrual cramps, the flu...you name it. Anyway, here are a list of my symptoms:

- frequent diarrhea (super smelly & floaty - sorry about the graphic description)

- night blindness (I'm not sure if that's relevant or not)

- super thin, brittle nails

- bouts of skin problems

- just a sick feeling most of the time

- light-headedness

- body pain - I don't really know exactly how to describe it...just pain. Different places, different times.

- headaches

- EXTREME fatigue

- irritability

- sad for no reason

- nausea & vomiting

- irregular periods (missed 4 months last summer - obviously not pregnant)

Like I said, this has been going on for about 8 months. I've also lost almost 30 pounds - I'm 5'2". I was 145, now I am about 115 (not complaining there haha). I eat very healthy - whole wheat bread, fruits, veggies and protein. Lately, though, I've been paying more attention to when I feel the most sick. I've realized that my "sick" feeling starts about 30 minutes after I eat. I was experimenting with eating, and I found that if I ate carrots or grapes or a salad, I felt fine. But after eating a sandwich (with whole wheat bread), I just feel disgustingly ill - almost like I have the flu.

I was googling symptoms (bad idea, I know) and I came across gluten intolerance. I don't have money to go to a doctor, but I decided to just cut out gluten about a week ago. I feel SO much better. I still feel a little weird in the morning and my bowels aren't all the way better, but does this mean I am gluten intolerant? Should I stay gluten-free? What are your suggestions? Thank you so much for all your help in advance!

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It sure sounds to me that you either have celiac or gluten intolerance. It will take a while for you to heal and start really feeling better. Some of us see results right away only to have setbacks a few weeks in. Some of us develop other intolerances to things like dairy, corn, soy, and other things.

You also have to be very careful about cross contamination. And you need a new toaster, and some new cookware if yours is scratched or cast iron. And you have to be careful about kissing your boyfriend if he has been eating gluten foods. Seriously.

There is a sticky at the top of the forum called, "Newbie 101". Read that, read as much as you can here in other threads, ask as many questions as you can, and by the way, welcome to the best forum on the web!

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I agree that you probably have celiac...or maybe gluten sensitivity. The fact that you have night blindness, which is considered very rare, indicates--to me, anyway--that you probably have celiac. Night blindness can result from malabsorption of Vitamin A, and I've had it since the age of 11. Unfortunately, I didn't put the pieces of the puzzle together until I was 47, so I didn't know that celiac had been with me for my entire life. But, heck, there was no internet to go to! Anyway, my night blindness did not go away after going gluten free, but perhaps yours will, since you're still quite young.

Bartfull is correct about the cross-contamination. If you, in fact, have celiac, you'll need to be VERY vigilant about avoiding even the smallest amount of gluten. With celiac, a molecule of gluten can be just as damaging as a slice of bread. Over time, your symptoms should resolve, but the diarrhea may turn to soft stools and then finally firmer stools after 6-18 months. It takes a while for the gut to heal, so you must be patient. However, your gut pain and overall pain should resolve soon.

Because of your symptoms, it might be a good idea to take a multi-vitamin (one without gluten) with iron. In the best of all worlds, you should be tested for nutritional deficiencies, especially iron, B-12, folic acid, and D. Also, your thyroid should be tested, since celiacs tend to have thyroid problems, and a number of symptoms are also indicative of a thyroid condition. Would your college clinic be able to order such testing? It's really very routine.

I'm glad that you were able to figure out for yourself what doctors could not (join the huge club here at celiac.com in that regard!). You should enjoy a long, healthy life as a result of your perseverance. Welcome to the Forum! And please let us know if you continue to do well or have any additional questions.

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Thanks for replying so quickly :) Just knowing that someone else agrees that gluten might be my problem makes me feel so much better - everyone else, my boyfriend included, thinks I'm psycho! Are there any vitamins I should be taking or anything? I've already taken steps to lower cross contamination, but I didn't even think about my pans and my toaster. Also, I'm very busy because I have 3 jobs, but should I stay away from restaurants? I love Dunkin, but lately even their coffee makes me sick. Could that be cross contamination? Thanks for all your help! I'm so glad to have support.

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Would just like to add that I looked into the symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency and saw a bunch of your symptoms there. I've always had difficulty absorbing Vitamin A, but at a recent celiac conference, a speaker mentioned that both Vitamin D and A nutritional deficiencies in people with celiac can be relieved by taking Natural Vitamin D3 by Country Life (600 IU of Vit. A and 400 IU of Vit. D3). It contains medium chain triglycerides to help celiacs absorb these vitamins. You see, Vitamin A and D should be taken together in a particular ratio, and this supplement does that. I highly recommend it, as I now finally seem able to absorb both Vitamin A and D as a result of taking it--first time in my ilfe. Low Vitamin A can cause weight loss, skin problems, fatigue, and night blindness among other symptoms. I think you're a strong candidate for adding this inexpensive product to your daily regimen.

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Celiac sufferers are often labeled hypochondriacs because of the variety of symptoms that pop up, and the lack of specificity about why we don't feel well. I heard it from doctors for years, but it hurts when it comes from a loved one :(

There are lots of articles in the Publications and Publicity section of the forum that you might want to pass on to your boyfriend. Maybe when he finds out that celiacs is actually pretty common he'll be more supportive.

I also had night blindness, and blurry vision, but they went away after about 2-3 months of being gluten free.

Be diligent with your diet, and like Bartfull said you may have setbacks at times. I didn't have the celiac tests done before going gluten free either, and during those first few months I would question the point of being gluten free because there were still days, and sometimes weeks, where I felt awful. But they do pass, and it's worth sticking to the diet, even without medical confirmation of a diagnosis.

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Yeah, like everyone else, I think you do have something with gluten. And like everyone else, I want to remind about the set backs. I just got out of one, and it sucks because everything makes you sick, but, hey, sticking to gluten-free makes it better.

Onward, my friend!

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Thanks for all your help, guys! I'm gonna go memorize Newbie 101 haha :)

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