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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 FREE Celiac.com email alerts What are the major symptoms of celiac disease? Celiac Disease Symptoms What testing is available for celiac disease? - list blood tests, endo with biopsy, genetic test and enterolab (not diagnostic) 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 Free recipes: Gluten-Free Recipes Where can I buy gluten-free stuff? Support this site by shopping at The Celiac.com Store.

Undiagnosed With Questions
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Hello everyone,

I've had amenorrhea (absence of menstrual cycles) since I was 12, and I've been taking birth-control pills to regulate my periods since 16, as the doctor's conclusion was that I had a hormonal imbalance. I'm 33 now.

I've always been constipated (sometimes diarrhea but not as often as constipation) and always overweight, even as a little child. I never had any abdominal problems other than the constipation and bloating, but I never felt any pain.

I went to doctors so many times complaining about being depressed, suffered severe mood-swings & anxiety, tired and constipated, and I even told them that I ate healthy and exercised, but they always smirked at me and linked my problems to my weight. They told me that nothing was wrong with me, to go home and start eating vegetables and cut down on pasta. A gynecologist even told me that there was no need for me to get periods at all, so even the birth-control treatment was needless!

I started reading a lot about hormonal conditions because I wasn't satisfied with the treatments I got from doctors, and I falsely came to the conclusion that I had PMDD (advanced state of PMS), so I went to yet another gynecologist and explained all my issues to him. All he did was prescribe a different type of birth-control pill and gave me anti-depressants, which only made things worse.

I however read on a PMDD website that a good natural treatment for PMDD was to cut gluten, sugar, lactose, salt, caffeine and salt from my diet, so I did that. That's when I started feeling better, but still not all the time (since I had no clue I had to be 100% strict! I still ate processed foods and ready-made sauces which I had no clue contained gluten).

As I was visiting family this summer, they all tried talking me out of gluten-free eating because they felt bad that I couldn't enjoy all that food they were eating. They told me it was all bulls$#& and silly because no doctor actually told me to stop eating gluten. I was almost convinced since I wasn't really feeling so good anyway, but I went online a see if any websites confirmed it was all a myth.

That's when I found that amenorrhea is a symptom of celiac disease. I always thought that my digestive issues were caused by my hormonal imbalance, and not the other way around. I dismissed celiac disease before because the doctors told me I had a hormonal imbalance. I didn't know doctors could be so stupid.

I also discovered that my gluten-free diet wasn't effective while reading about celiac disease. I had no clue I was still eating so much "hidden" gluten.

Discovering I might have celiac disease made so much sense, because whenever I exercised, I would feel weaker after.. and people are supposed to feel stronger after working out, but I would have such awful muscle weakness (not pain) that pushing on the bicycle paddle was harder than the previous day, until it would be too difficult, so I'd stop working out until the next week (where my strength would be back). It also made sense because I don't have hair or acne on my face or any faulty reproductive features which could be caused by hormonal problems.

Now I'm watching every last ingredient if I buy any ready-made good or sauce, and I even try to avoid anything in a jar or a can. I'm sticking to only fresh stuff and keeping check on all the hidden gluten in flavorings and whatever. Even my weight has been going down, but I have a few questions that I'm hoping you guys can help me with, since there is no way I'm going to a god-forsaken doctor anymore.

1. How do I know what kind of supplements I need? My teeth are slightly transparent and decayed but I don't have any serious bone or dental problems. My nails tend to bend even when they're short.

2. I sometimes get dandruff and itchy scalp. Will this be treated by dieting? I'm currently using VICHY shampoo which I hope is gluten-free (they're not answering my emails).

3. Since I don't get any immediate symptoms (like cramps or sore throat) after eating gluten, how do I know I've made a mistake before it's too late? All I feel is constipation, bloating and anxiety.

Thank you anyone who reads this. I appreciate any help and pointers, specially since I don't know anyone else who knows about this. My entire family cares less about ingesting gluten even though I've told them it's hereditary. Not a single doctor I've met ever thought twice about helping me since to them being overweight pretty much sums it all up for them. My weight has been going down on it's and I pretty much eat the same amounts as I always have.

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Just to address the chewing gum and ketchup issue. I don't chew gum but I haven't heard of any with gluten. I would think sugar free gum would be OK. In the US, i haven't seen any ketchup with gluten.

Have you had yourself tested for anemia, iron, ferritin, B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D? Severe vitamin deficiencies are a result of the intestinal damage. You can't absorb the nutrients.

I assume through all this they are watching your thyroid?

Not every pain or problem is related directly or indirectly to gluten. Your back might just hurt because you lifted something wrong. Alot of things, like bad fingernails, can be related to the vitamin deficiencies caused by celiac. They can also be related to thyroid, dry air, etc.

Make sure you are not deficient and supplement what you are lacking.

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Just to address the chewing gum and ketchup issue. I don't chew gum but I haven't heard of any with gluten. I would think sugar free gum would be OK. In the US, i haven't seen any ketchup with gluten.

Have you had yourself tested for anemia, iron, ferritin, B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D? Severe vitamin deficiencies are a result of the intestinal damage. You can't absorb the nutrients.

I assume through all this they are watching your thyroid?

Not every pain or problem is related directly or indirectly to gluten. Your back might just hurt because you lifted something wrong. Alot of things, like bad fingernails, can be related to the vitamin deficiencies caused by celiac. They can also be related to thyroid, dry air, etc.

Make sure you are not deficient and supplement what you are lacking.

Thanks kareng. I'll get myself tested when I get back to Sweden. I'm currently on a trip in the middle-east. The chewing-gum and ketchup are local brands. The gum contained dexterin and the ketchup some type of flavoring. I did a thyroid check a few years ago because I was gaining unexplained weight (which turned out to be due the anti-depressant paroxatin). They said my thyroid was not under-active.. but I'm not sure if that has anything to do with celiac disease symptoms.

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Thanks kareng. I'll get myself tested when I get back to Sweden. I'm currently on a trip in the middle-east. The chewing-gum and ketchup are local brands. The gum contained dexterin and the ketchup some type of flavoring. I did a thyroid check a few years ago because I was gaining unexplained weight (which turned out to be due the anti-depressant paroxatin). They said my thyroid was not under-active.. but I'm not sure if that has anything to do with celiac disease symptoms.

Who knows in the middle-east? I didn't even know they had ketchup!

IN the US. dextrin and flavorings are considered safe.

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I've been reading some other posts and some new questioned have come up! I would appreciate your input and advice.

Can Dermatitis Herpetiformis appear on a single finger? I was getting a rash where the skin broke and got flaky together with tiny blisters. It both itched and burns (specially at night). I went to a doctor and he told me it was allergies from dish soap, and gave me cortisone cream for it. The rash went away when I started using gloves when washing dishes, and the cream was quite effective if it showed up again. This rash only appears on my right middle finger and the back of my left hand but milder. A few weeks ago I got a red flaky patch on the bikini line as well but it didn't have blisters. It was very itchy and a little inflamed though. They've both gone now that I've gotten off gluten 100%. I'm starting to think it might be a mistake not to get myself diagnosed now.

I'm trying to figure out which one of my parents has celiac, even though they're not taking me seriously. My mother is very short and skinny, can suffer from constipation, and has a red rash patch (small and flaky but no blisters) on both her knees. She doesn't have diabetes and I don't know about her thyroid.

My dad on the other hand has diabetes, thyroid problems, constipation, and suffers severe mood swings like me (I used to think he was bipolar because he'd be calm for months then become overactive and irritable the next months). But he's quite tall and his bone structure is wide. Is it possible that both my parents have celiac?

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Hello forum dwellers,

I've sadly not gotten any responses to my questions, but I know that the forum is large and it's hard to give every last poster your attention. I've luckily read around and found answers to most of my questions as well so no worries:-)

Nevertheless I'm still having stomach aches. I just never had them before, or maybe I just didn't notice them, or maybe they're just placebo.. I don't know, but I've been getting them often since getting off the gluten. The constipation is gone on it's own for the first time in my life but I don't know why I'm getting stomach aches. Like when I sit or lie down on it, it hurts. I didn't stop the lactose yet because I'm on trip in the middle east and the yogurt dishes or dishes that are eaten with yogurt are made really often. Could the lactose be causing the ache? My stools are kindof loose as well (sorry for the grossness). Will continuing to eat lactose prohibit my intestines from healing as well? I'm going home in a week.

I'm also wondering why getting diagnosed is very important.

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Hi Dani

Doctors like getting you diagnosed as they think that celiacs need to be very strict about the diet to avoid further health problems. They currently think that people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may not need to be quite as strict, and may even have a level of tolerance to ingesting small amounts of gluten. However I haven't managed to find any research to back this up, and many of us think that doctors are simply missing many celiac cases because of problems with the testing (or simply not testing when they ought to). Given the wide range of symptoms experienced by diagnosed celiacs (from near-death to completely silent)you could argue that if you have observed any form of gluten sensitivity, strict avoidance is less risky.

A formal diagnosis also helps other family members get tested, as medical guidelines encourage the testing of first degree relatives. Celiac disease is strongly heritable, and one day you may need to have your children tested. A diagnosis also helps to stop other family members thinking you are simply odd to avoid gluten for no reason validated by a doctor!

As for the ongoing stomach aches etc - well, it just takes time to heal. Until you do, it may continue to hurt for a while.

Continuing to consume lactose won't help you heal. Lactase to digest the lactose is produced in the tips of the villi. If these are damaged by celiac, you won't be able to digest it. I don't know if consuming it will actually set you back in healing, but I personally feel it is likely, albeit not the same extent as gluten ingestion. I tried some hard cheese for the first time yesterday (after 5 months gluten free), and it just gave me stomach ache, gurgling and bloating. Not as bad as a gluten reaction, but not helpful either. I'm going to continue to avoid it for a bit longer. I agree it is tough for you though, if you are trying to eat while travelling, and dairy is in most of the local food. I hope you enjoy your trip despite your discomfort. It is a fascinating area of the world.

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I was lactose intolerant for milk, ice cream, cream and frozen yogurt (not really yogurt), but was able to tolerate yogurt, cheese and sour cream without any problem. This is because these products have cultures and enzymes which digest the lactose for you and are mostly lactose free. I believe it is probably not worth spoiling your trip over not consuming a little yogurt - you can find out whether or not it bothers you when you get home, but do avoid the full lactose products like milk, etc.

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Dani, watch out for ketchup in the MIddle East. Only eat it if it is from a packet. They add water and other stuff to "stretch" the Ketchup in my experience. It tastes bad when they do this. We follow this rule anywhere outside the US to be honest but I really noticed the weird ketchup in the Middle East.

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Dani, watch out for ketchup in the MIddle East. Only eat it if it is from a packet. They add water and other stuff to "stretch" the Ketchup in my experience. It tastes bad when they do this. We follow this rule anywhere outside the US to be honest but I really noticed the weird ketchup in the Middle East.

Yeah I don't eat it anymore. Thanks

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    • Good advice Ennis!  I would add baking and freezing some gluten-free cupcakes to have on hand, so that she is never left out.  Be sure to read our Newbie 101 tips under the coping section of the forum.  Cross contamination is a big issue,  If the house is not gluten free, make sure everyone is in board with kitchen procedures.   Hopefully, your GI talked about the fact that this AI issue is genetic.   Get tested (and your TD1 child).  TD1 is strongly linked to celiac disease.  About 10% of TD1's develop celiac disease and vice versa.  Get tested even if you do not display any symptoms.    http://www.cureceliacdisease.org/screening/ https://celiac.org/celiac-disease/understanding-celiac-disease-2/diagnosing-celiac-disease/
    • What does weak mean?  Like you squat down and and you can not get back up?  Or are you fatigued?  When you said blood panel, was your thyroid tested?  Antibodies for thyroid should be checked if you have celiac.  So many of us have thyroid issues.  
    • We are not doctors, but based on the results you provided, you tested negative on the celiac screening test.  You could ask for the entire celiac blood panel to help rule out celiac disease.  The other IgA that was high?  It normally is given as a control test for the TTG IgA test (meaning if the celiac test results are valid).  In your case, the TTG IgA test works.  Outside of celiac disease, you might have some infection.  Discuss this with your doctor as he has access to your entire medical file.  I would not worry about it though over the weekend!  
    • See: http://www.cureceliacdisease.org/faq/can-a-skin-biopsy-for-dermatitis-herpetiformis-dh-confirm-celiac-disease-or-is-an-endoscopy-still-needed/ Take a copy of that with you or mail it to the doc. How many endoscopic biopsies did they take? Those with dh tend to have patchier damage than "normal" celiacs.
    • Ironictruth, I think that is a very insightful thought. since different antibodies present for different body systems all the ways gluten affects the body is still not well understood. Here is a case of presumably someone who had the gut damage of a celiac but also had neurological damage. http://www.nature.com/nrneurol/journal/v3/n10/full/ncpneuro0631.html entitled "A case of celiac disease mimicking amyotrophic lateral sclerosis" so it has happened in the literal but since this is not well understood people don't make the connection today. I would also point you to this hindawi article on the "Lesson's learned from Pellagra" but I am afraid we haven' learn't yet. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/cggr/2012/302875/ notice specially the 2.1 section clinical feature of pellagra and all the neurological symptom's once associated with a Pellagra patient. quoting "The neurological manifestation did not stop there because other degenerative conditions, such as an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-like picture, were described, with fasciculation of the tongue and upper and lower motor neuron signs. Cerebellar syndromes occurred and vertigo was frequent. Headaches, sensory and pain syndromes, epilepsy, and involuntary movements were noted as well as sleep disturbances. Cord lesions were also seen, as was optic atrophy, so there were multiple sclerosis (MS), like variants." which tells me doctor's don't recognize pellagra today when they see it because they haven't seen it in 75+ years. ***this is not medical advice but read the hindawi journal on lesson's learned and I think you will see yourself in their many descriptions of all the way Pellagra presents itself to doctor's and patients still suffering today and you can see why it (like celiac) is hard to pin down today because it presents in so many ways it can be soo overwhelming and since vitamins are not a focus anymore today (especially b-vitamins) that today I believe we are doomed to repeat history's lessons unless the current generation learns again all the ways pellagra presents itself today. good luck on your continued journey. posterboy by the grace of God,  
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