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      Frequently Asked Questions About Celiac Disease   09/30/2015

      This Celiac.com FAQ on celiac disease will guide you to all of the basic information you will need to know about the disease, its diagnosis, testing methods, a gluten-free diet, etc.   Subscribe to Celiac.com's FREE weekly eNewsletter   What are the major symptoms of celiac disease? Celiac Disease Symptoms What testing is available for celiac disease?  Celiac Disease Screening Interpretation of Celiac Disease Blood Test Results Can I be tested even though I am eating gluten free? How long must gluten be taken for the serological tests to be meaningful? The Gluten-Free Diet 101 - A Beginner's Guide to Going Gluten-Free Is celiac inherited? Should my children be tested? Ten Facts About Celiac Disease Genetic Testing Is there a link between celiac and other autoimmune diseases? Celiac Disease Research: Associated Diseases and Disorders Is there a list of gluten foods to avoid? Unsafe Gluten-Free Food List (Unsafe Ingredients) Is there a list of gluten free foods? Safe Gluten-Free Food List (Safe Ingredients) Gluten-Free Alcoholic Beverages Distilled Spirits (Grain Alcohols) and Vinegar: Are they Gluten-Free? Where does gluten hide? Additional Things to Beware of to Maintain a 100% Gluten-Free Diet What if my doctor won't listen to me? An Open Letter to Skeptical Health Care Practitioners Gluten-Free recipes: Gluten-Free Recipes

Short Of Breath?

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I'm hoping someone out there might be able to give some advice. I am a 46 year old female. I have developed symptoms suggestive of gallbladder problems - pain concentrated over the right side, gas, diarrohea etc. Two lots of ultrasounds have come back negative however.

I have been trying to do some research myself on what might be causing my symptoms, and celiac struck somewhat of a cord as I also have joint pain, pernicous anaemia (autoimmune disorder) thyroid antibodies, and malabsorption of calcium and vitamin D leading to bone density loss - my research suggests these are sometimes associated with celiac disease. Plus I have noticed that if I eat products with gluten I seem to start feeling really lousy by which I mean abdominal pain, diarrohea sometimes but other times constipation, tiredness and somewhat dizzy. However the weird symptom is breathlessness, almost like having asthma where I can't seem to get enough air no matter how deep I breathe. This has got both myself and my doctor puzzled, as shortness of breath is not usually associated with digestive disorders. All the normal lung function tests have come back just fine. But the breathlessness and abdominal pain/bloating etc definitely seem to happen together.

I'm just wondering whther anyone has ever come across this as a symptom of celiac disease, or am I on the wrong track in pursuing this as a possibility? Also, if anything I am overweight rather than underweight. Is it possible to be overweight and have this disease?

Any comments would be appreciated


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Welcome! I just sent off my Enterolab test today so I do not yet know if I have Celiac, but your symptoms sound very similar to mine. For me, when I am bloated my lungs do not have as much room to expand. Anytime I feel like I'm not getting enough air it triggers an anxiety attack which causes that "can't catch your breath" feeling. I always take a GAS-X and it helps. I do not know if GAS-X is gluten-free though.

I know wheat causes a lot a problems for me, but I still have some doubts whether it's Celiac. So, I ordered the tests through Enterolab. If they come back possitive I will be more confident when asking for the blood tests.

Hope this helps

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Guest Laurie anne

Hi interval and Lisa S,

I too am overweight, I lost alot of weight when I first got sick and then when i started taking medicine and eating again i gained it back fast, now i can't seem to get rid of it again, but I too have the short of breath feeling and my throat feels like it swells up, I 'm finding it has alot to do with yeast too. Sometimes I take benedryl when i get this feeling, and it does seem to help, I feel short of breath and start to itch when I get very stressed out too. I do find it helps to go in my room and listen to my sound machine and try to relax, my doctor said most of my problems were self induced...

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Hi Interval,

Yes, I have the exact same problems as you. The shortness of breath has been a problem for a while. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease which can really cause everything else to go haywire. I was assuming when things swell up inside it gives your lungs less room to expand. My nutritionist says my pulmonary readings are all out of whack too. The breathlessness comes when I'm feeling at my worst and I always tell them there is a definite correlation. I finally found a doctor who believes me and with all the joint/muscle pain and everything else a celiac complains of, he says I'm a classis case. It's nice to be not thought of as a hypochondriac for once.

Blessings to you and I hope you feel better soon,


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Dear Interval,

You wrote:

"However the weird symptom [when eating glutenous foods] is breathlessness, almost like having asthma where I can't seem to get enough air no matter how deep I breathe. This has got both myself and my doctor puzzled, as shortness of breath is not usually associated with digestive disorders. All the normal lung function tests have come back just fine. But the breathlessness and abdominal pain/bloating etc definitely seem to happen together."

I have some ideas about what you may have going on here. You will need to check with your doctors to see if I'm right or not.

You may have a combination of anemia, which can cause shortness of breath, PLUS, a type of GASTRIC REFLUX, that can also cause shortness of breath.

Here's a possible scenario:

When a person has gluten intolerance, and is still eating glutenous foods, these glutenous foods can upset the stomach (in addition to harming the small intestine, etc.).

When the stomach gets "upset", this can lead to GASTRIC REFLUX (and the abdominal pain & bloating might also add to the gastric reflux).

There are different kinds of reflux. One type of reflux causes heartburn symptoms. Another higher up type of reflux can cause BREATHING PROBLEMS, including asthma, &/or VCD/Vocal Cord Dysfunction/laryngospasm.

This 'high up' type of gastric reflux is called LPR/Laryngeal Pharyngeal Reflux. The word laryngeal refers to the "larynx" (voice box). The word pharyngeal means throat. Reflux means a backwards movement of liquid from the stomach, back up into the esophagus.

LPR usually doesn't cause 'heartburn' symptoms. But, LPR can cause BREATHING problems.

When you eat glutenous foods, do you ever have burps that contain a little "vomit", but you may not be nauseated, and there may be no warning of the liquid burp?

Do you ever have burps that taste bad, as if they came from your stomach?

These are subtle symptoms of LPR.

I urge you to go gluten-free, for at least one month, and see if you get better. You can also send a stool sample to Dr. Fine's "EnteroLab" for a non-invasive way to see if you are gluten intolerant or not. Here's a link to Dr. Fine's website:


There can also be other food sensitivities that may be factors, in your case. Might you be sensitive to CORN, SOY, COW'S MILK?

I have some "gastric reflux tips", called Appendix B, on webpage 10 of my website. Here's a link to webpage 10:


In these "gastric reflux tips" are many ideas, including some about gluten sensitivity. I hope these help some.




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I've had shortness of breath for quite a while (was just diagnosed 3 weeks ago with celiac) and also wonder if it's connected. This disease has so many manifestations that I wouldn't be a bit surprised! When the body can't absorb nutrients, all bets are off as far as your health is concerned.

My main symptoms have been steadily increasing fatigue, "brain fog", and steatorrhea (abnormal bowel movements: frequent, large, floating, light-colored, very malodorous stools). My doctor was getting ready to send me to a shrink for my fatigue until I requested the celiac blood test and it came back positive. (Previously, my tiredness was attributed to depresssion. Then, I had sleep studies to check for apnea. Then, a b12 deficiency was discovered and corrected with shots. Still I kept on in my quest to find out the problem. My motto was NEVER GIVE UP!)

Incidentally, I've suggested to my brother that he get tested for celiac. He has extensive liver damage (sclerosing cholingitis) and had his gallbladder taken out. Problems with these organs have been linked to celiac disease.

Not everyone loses weight or has diarrhea with this disease. Some gain weight, some are constipated. A distended abdomen can be a symptom. From my recent reading, fatigue and anemia are among the more common signs, but even those are not always present!

Anyway, sounds like a good gastroenterologist consult would be just the ticket for you!

Best wishes!

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Guest kaz75

I also had problems with being short of breath at one time. My tests all came back fine, the ER doctor thought it was anxiety. It turned out that I also have many other food allergies, one of which is soy. At the time, I was very sick, and they had me living on ensure (which is mostly soy). Later my allergist told me that what happens is your stomach gets so bloated that it pushes on your diaphragm. This pushes it up and, in turn, reduces your lung capacity. This makes it harder to breathe! They gave me asthma medication in the ER which never helped. It's because it wasn't my bronchial tubes that were having the problem. It was the reaction in my stomach. I wasn't crazy and neither are you! The fact that your stomach always gets bloated, I would think, would be a good indication that the same thing could be happening to you. You might want to have tests for other food allergies. I had to have skin testing, because my food allergies are delayed food allergies and they don't always show up on blood tests. You might want to see an allergist/immunologist. Hope this helps, and good luck! Kathy :D

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Short of breath

did not realize I was so short of breath untill i took my first deep breath

after 4-6 weeks without gluten. Anemia was my other big symptom

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Get ready my story is pretty long.

I have been reading everything in this section and I have symptoms I didn't know I had. I can remember way back as a kid always having a stomach ache. I was a kid so I never thought twice about it. As I got older they would come and go but I didn't know it wasn't normal. I am 39 now, I had my son at 22 and the next day developed a lactose intolerance problem. It took me a couple of months to figure that out because I lived on dairy and thought it was more delivery related. I did start cuting out the dairy and using the lactaid. My problem still came and went and I thought I was eating this including whey etc.

Now, My daughter is 12 1/2. at around 7 she seemed to become lactose intolerant. We just watched her dairy more. At 10 I took her for the lactose test and she was positive. Her symptoms didn't seem to really be taken care of with the dairy restrictions either.

I stumbbled into an article in a magazine about a women who has celiac, her symptoms and years of being undiagnosed. Sounded just like us!

I took my daughter to a Pediatric GI doctor a couple of weeks ago. He diagnosed her as Lactose intelerant and Irritable Bowel Syndrom. He did the blood work and it came back as a false Positive??? The IGG were a little irregular he said but the IGE and IGA were negative. I don't know how accurate the blood test is?

I have asthma, The doctor said he doesn't see any reason why I am still on the daily medication since I have no more cats (which is what brought it on in the first place) and my breathing tests are fine. I don't feel ready to get off the meds. because I do feel short of breath. Until I read what all of you wrote I never linked the two together.

Last december I had a cold, about two weeks after the cold was gone I had a very bad problem breathing. I was told it's an irregular heart beat and it will go away on it's own in time because it was from my cold. It did mimick this vocal cord problem because that was one of the things that I did reasearch at the time.

The two of us have the same problems for the most part.

Diarrhea, Heart burn, Stomach Pains, I get a foggy feeling but I haven't tried to link it to eating certain foods yet, Gassy most of the time, My daughter developed a dandruff problem this winter, I have been getting a pain in one calf bone since I was very young, My daughter gets cramps in her legs.

I am going to the doctor at the end of the month so I can be tested too. I'm not sure I believe her blood work. Is the stool test more accurate than the blood test?

If you made it to the end thank you for reading this, I feel better having gotten it all out with out being interrupted, which usually happens if you try to tell someone all of this.

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the blood test is just a snapshot in time, so I hear. I would Do it again after eating lots of cream of wheat, tiscuits etc for a few weeks.

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My understanding is that the stool tests done at Enterolab are more accurate than the blood tests as they measure antibodies in the intestinal tract before they become elevated in the blood stream. They also do a family discount for multiple tests. Definitely worth looking into. :)

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Digestive problems do cause suffocation like symptoms, and people who complain about shortness of breath are not mad. For a comparison, when you have the flu and feel tired, no doctor says you are mad and should see a psychiatrist...

In the case of food intolerance, the immune system of the body is triggered, and this normally cause short of breath - remember how some people do suffocate when bitten by wasp or snake, and a harmful substance entered the blood stream, causing the immune system to react violently.

Moreover, tissues (digestive membrane) can inflamate, another cause for feeling very tired.

And not to forget that the digestive system communicates fondly with the nervous sytem, and it use this communication path to signal that something goes wrong inside it that it can't handle, and these signals may provoke "weird" sensations to the digestive suffering person.

This shortness of breath is not to be completely ignored, and when possible the person accusing it should rest, possibly lying in bed, but without overdoing it. (should take short walks when he/she feels better).

I wish best of health and strong morale to all the people suffering from this very unpleasant thing.

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I used to be short of breath before becoming gluten-free 4 years ago. I was an athletic kid but easily became short of breath which embarrassed me. I do not have asthma. I haven't been short of breath the last few years but I thought it was because simultaneously with going gluten-free I began martial arts training and we focus heavily on controlling our breathing. I was put on a one-month gluten challenge diet by my doctor starting yesterday because I never had an endoscopy. As expected I had abdominal swelling within half an hour but the eye-opener was that I became winded on 1 flight of stairs. I remember how that used to feel all the time and I was surprised to see it return all of a sudden. I'm guessing it's been celiac-related all my life.

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The original poster has not been on the forum in 7 years.

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