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      Frequently Asked Questions About Celiac Disease   09/30/2015

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Chopper

Glutened By Vapors

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My husband took up a new hobby, brewing beer. After he made it two different times, the next day I got sick. (I'm always sick the next day when I'm glutened.) He didn't believe me when I blamed it on the boiling brew. I volunteered to help at the fire department for their chicken bbq, and I was working in the kitchen with the boiling macaroni. Sure enough, next day I got sick. Even when he tried to make it when I wasn't home for a third time, I still got sick the next day. This tells me I've moved into the super sensitive arena. But I have to believe that's because I've done such a good job of avoiding gluten, that when I get a little bit, I'm not used to it and react stronger. So be aware of vapors!!!

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My husband took up a new hobby, brewing beer. After he made it two different times, the next day I got sick. (I'm always sick the next day when I'm glutened.) He didn't believe me when I blamed it on the boiling brew. I volunteered to help at the fire department for their chicken bbq, and I was working in the kitchen with the boiling macaroni. Sure enough, next day I got sick. Even when he tried to make it when I wasn't home for a third time, I still got sick the next day. This tells me I've moved into the super sensitive arena. But I have to believe that's because I've done such a good job of avoiding gluten, that when I get a little bit, I'm not used to it and react stronger. So be aware of vapors!!!

Unless your head is hanging over the boiling pot of macaroni or boiling beer, I'm pretty certain you can not get glutened by vapors floating around the house.

Perhaps, handling the pasta at the fire house? In the beginning, I used to get a bit nauseated walking down the flour aisle at the grocery store, but it was just me being nervous.

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My husband took up a new hobby, brewing beer. After he made it two different times, the next day I got sick. (I'm always sick the next day when I'm glutened.) He didn't believe me when I blamed it on the boiling brew. I volunteered to help at the fire department for their chicken bbq, and I was working in the kitchen with the boiling macaroni. Sure enough, next day I got sick. Even when he tried to make it when I wasn't home for a third time, I still got sick the next day. This tells me I've moved into the super sensitive arena. But I have to believe that's because I've done such a good job of avoiding gluten, that when I get a little bit, I'm not used to it and react stronger. So be aware of vapors!!!

You have to ingest gluten into your gut to cause a Celiac reaction. You cannot be glutened by vapors. Having said that, smells can have an affect on people as I have experienced the same thing but I think it is a psychosomatic reaction. I get headaches and nausea when I smell pizza or any other strong smell involving gluten foods. I view it as my body warning me to steer clear! If I remove myself from the offending smell, it clears up pretty quick.

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It is widely accepted that distillation renders the distillate gluten-free because the protein molecule (the gluten) is much too large to vaporize, even under heat. I don't understand how making beer could vaporize what a still can not. There are some who react to distilled spirits, but my own thought on that is that they are reacting to fragments of the gluten protein chain, not the entire molecule.

As Lisa said, there may be a psychological response. If you believe that something will make you sick, then it will.

The bread aisle at the market is similar.

A bakery, however, is different, as flour becomes airborne and gets inhaled. The respiratory tract and the digestive tract are connected at the back of the mouth.

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Unless your head is hanging over the boiling pot of macaroni or boiling beer, I'm pretty certain you can not get glutened by vapors floating around the house.

Is it your personal experience that lead you to this conclusion?

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As Peter said, airborne flour can linger in the air and if you did inhale it, it would indeed travel into the GI tract.

I felt woozy in the baking section of the supermarket when I was very ill from celiac and shortly after my diagnosis, but in retrospect, I was woozy all the time and so sick, that I cannot state for certainty that it was caused just by being in the bakery aisle. I am sure I said that on here somewhere those first few months. but I was naive and I was so sick from malabsorption, EVERYTHING seemed to "give me a reaction".

(That said, I would not take a job in a bakery right now.)

Truth is, my body was so beat up, it was't any ONE thing sparking it, it was just me, still sick from the celiac.

I wonder if maybe you are feeling ill from cross contamination, rather than vapors. If your hubs is brewing beer in the house (as mine does--- and I know what a mess he makes all over the kitchen floor <_< ) it could a potential cause for CC. Working in someone else's kitchen, like at the fire house, could also pose a potential CC issue, especially if they served up some nice squishy bread with that pasta and someone used a cutting board, etc. etc.

We could speculate all day long and maybe never come up with an answer, but in all likelihood it is not gluten "vapors". IMHO

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I've been gluten-free as long as Lisa, and agree with her completely as well as what others have posted. As far as personal experience, I cooked regular pasta a while back (I normally wouldn't have allowed it in my kitchen but this was a special circumstance). My head was directly over the pot and when I drained it, the steam was right there in my face. No problem whatsoever for this sensitive gal.

I think in this case, it is possible that the problem was a result of cross contamination but sometimes it's next to impossible to figure out the exact cause.

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Thank you all for your replies. I truly did not anticipate being sick from those incidents - I actually anticipated nothing at all - so it was not psychosomatic. It was several times of truly not being able to figure out why I had gotten ill that lead me to the proper conclusion. For those of you not aware, the syrup used in beer making is highly condensed malt, and yes I had directly inhaled the vapors. The large volume of boiling pasta at the firehall created alot of vapors as well. Due to my level of sensitivity, I am extraordinarily careful. I have reached the proper conclusion and am glad to hear that none of you have gone through the frustration of discovering this surprising way of being glutened.

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Thank you all for your replies. I truly did not anticipate being sick from those incidents - I actually anticipated nothing at all - so it was not psychosomatic. It was several times of truly not being able to figure out why I had gotten ill that lead me to the proper conclusion. For those of you not aware, the syrup used in beer making is highly condensed malt, and yes I had directly inhaled the vapors. The large volume of boiling pasta at the firehall created alot of vapors as well. Due to my level of sensitivity, I am extraordinarily careful. I have reached the proper conclusion and am glad to hear that none of you have gone through the frustration of discovering this surprising way of being glutened.

Psychosomatic reactions happen whether you anticipate a reaction or not and what you described could certainly have been one. I wasn't anticipating feeling nauseous either but it happened.

Most Celiacs are sensitive and we all have to follow the same protocol to avoid ingesting gluten so this is not a measure of sensitivity. The reason why many have not gotten sick from boiling pasta is because you can't have a true Celiac reaction from it....unless you drink the pasta water. Draw whatever conclusions you want but it needs to be pointed out this is not a concern and you won't get your immune system in a tizzy from breathing in pasta vapors...it is not the same as inhaling solid flour.

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I think what you may have missed in Peter's explanation is that a gluten particle (molecule) is too large and heavy to rise in steam. Its quite possible some boiling liquid was sloshed around and you got some of it on your counter, plates, etc.

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Interesting how all of your strong opinions label my reactions as psychological. Actually, it's quite insulting. This brings back memories when some friends and family thought if I simply ate more gluten my body would get used to it because there's no such thing as celiac.

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I would like to suggest that posters and readers alike consider the difference between vapors from boiling grains versus distillation. In a complete distillation process gluten proteins are completely removed as I'm sure most are well aware. However, when grains are boiling in water, gluten particles do rise with vapor. When my husband is boiling grains for his beer, he is not distilling, he is cooking. Another fact that most celiacs are aware of, most beer contains gluten. Beer is not distilled. I strongly advise that evidence be posted here that vapors are gluten free (outside of the distillation process.) I'm not psycho.

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Interesting how all of your strong opinions label my reactions as psychological. Actually, it's quite insulting. This brings back memories when some friends and family thought if I simply ate more gluten my body would get used to it because there's no such thing as celiac.

I was just trying to explain physics & chemistry and help you find the true cause.

But I do agree, he doesn't need to be brewing gluteny beer in your home. I understand its a messy process.

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I was just trying to explain physics & chemistry and help you find the true cause.

I appreciate that. I'm just having a hard time accepting that I'm psycho.

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I would like to suggest that posters and readers alike consider the difference between vapors from boiling grains versus distillation. In a complete distillation process gluten proteins are completely removed as I'm sure most are well aware. However, when grains are boiling in water, gluten particles do rise with vapor. When my husband is boiling grains for his beer, he is not distilling, he is cooking. Another fact that most celiacs are aware of, most beer contains gluten. Beer is not distilled. I strongly advise that evidence be posted here that vapors are gluten free (outside of the distillation process.) I'm not psycho.

First, we are not saying you are a "pyscho". I think people have politely tried to explain this to you. Many of us have gotten anxious about being around gluten. I still think some of that boiling liquid splattered around and got on something.

Beer has gluten because it isn't distilled. You do not capture the steam (vapors) and let them cool to a liquid state again. That would be distillation. You use the "soup" you have cooked in the pan to make the beer.

People don't "remove" gluten during distillation. There isn't any in the steam to remove.

Rather than asking us to scientifically "prove" distillation and how a substance changes from liquid to gas (steam) and back to liquid, perhaps, you can show us how gluten can be in the steam? If you have valid scientific evidence of this, we and the Celiac organizations and medical centers will need to re-think the thought that distilled products are safe.

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I appreciate that. I'm just having a hard time accepting that I'm psycho.

I think we are posting at the same time. :)

I have decided to know longer have gluten pasta in my house. Everyone likes rice pasta and corn pasta, so I will provide that. the reason I have decided not to have gluten pasta anylonger is not because I get sick from the steam but the splatter,. They boil over the pasta, it splatters gluteny pasta water all over the sink & counter edge when they drain it....etc.

This is what I bet happened to you.

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Interesting how all of your strong opinions label my reactions as psychological. Actually, it's quite insulting. This brings back memories when some friends and family thought if I simply ate more gluten my body would get used to it because there's no such thing as celiac.

Our opinions were not strong, just the opinions of regular Celiacs who know you cannot be glutened by vapors. I never said you were psycho....you read into it too much. Having a psychosomatic reaction is nothing to get upset about.....it happens to everyone at some point. It's just another type of reaction and, I firmly believe, one where your mind is trying to protect your body. Strong, gluten smells still bother me. When McDonald's is making their lunch food and you can smell it outside their restaurants, it gaks me. Totally gross smell. Same with donuts....disgusting. It is not a Celiac reaction in the true sense but, after nearly dying from this disease, I tend to be very careful and avoid strong odors because they bother me. It could be the same for you or, as Kareng suggested, the pasta water got you from CC.

There is definitely no need to feel insulted. :D

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A typical reaction to gluten, I think, is shared by most celiacs. In short: flu-like sickness followed by complete emptying of GI tract followed by lethargy. Do the posters here believe that extreme reaction can be caused "psychosomatically"?

I can assuredly vouch that my level of being gluten free is extreme. I do not share utensils, cooking equipment, dishes, make everything home made, eat like a tree-hugger.

If I were to listen to these posters' advice and be in the same room every time grains containing gluten are boiled, I would most-assuredly be sick the next day with flu-like reaction, emptying of GI, lethargy. I will not intentionally do that to myself since I HATE being sick. Say what you want, but in this forum of super-sensitivity, I will continue to avoid vapors from boiling grains that contain gluten.

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A typical reaction to gluten, I think, is shared by most celiacs. In short: flu-like sickness followed by complete emptying of GI tract followed by lethargy. Do the posters here believe that extreme reaction can be caused "psychosomatically"?

What we are saying is you aren't glutened from steam. I think I have tried to explain it several times. I even suggested an alternative way you may have been glutened - splashes or drips. There is no point in my continuing this discussion as I think I have said all I can on the subject.

You appear to have a reason to want to argue that you are not a "psycho". That is not something anyone called you. Sorry if your feelings were hurt. We were just trying to get you the correct information.

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What we are saying is you aren't glutened from steam. I think I have tried to explain it several times. I even suggested an alternative way you may have been glutened - splashes or drips. There is no point in my continuing this discussion as I think I have said all I can on the subject.

You appear to have a reason to want to argue that you are not a "psycho". That is not something anyone called you. Sorry if your feelings were hurt. We were just trying to get you the correct information.

Taking into consideration every angle I can think of over the last few months, this is quite difficult to reconcile.

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May I just suggest something here? The word psychosomatic in medical language does not mean "psycho" or crazy or mentally ill or any other derogatory or negative word. Not at all. This is a misconception.

It's a description of real symptoms (a person does not "make them up") that come about from stress or the gut/brain connection from the nervous system. It's very complex., but real.

When I smell heavy perfume on someone, for example, I get sick to my stomach, a headache and I want to hurl. It's not caused by an injury or an illness, it is a gut/brain response.

You should not take umbrage at the use of this word. I don't think anyone meant to imply anything negative or critical.

When the word was used in response to possibly explain what happened to you, it was to explain the body's very real response to something external. The smell of the beer brewing or the pasta cooking could very well evoke this response in you, but it simply cannot be because there is a level of gluten that is harmful to you in the vapors.

My husband, a senior chemist for 35 years tells me he just does not see how it is possible.

Consider this:

a milligram is a thousandth of a gram;

a microgram is a thousandth of a milligram;

a nanogram is a thousandth of a microgram;

THAT nanogram ( or even a picogram --even smaller) is maybe, possibly the level you can detect in water vapor from boiling grains. Do you see how remote this is?

You are at least a million times removed from an amount that will cause a gluten reaction.

Here is another thought:

The reason why he voluntarily went gluten-free with me was because I was very ill for years before Dx and I am very sensitive to trace gluten and he watched me labor making two different meals while trying to make sure there was no CC. He had worked in labs and knows first hand how ridiculously easy it is for cross contamination to occur.

And making beer in the house --is a disaster. That stuff sloshes everywhere. I know, I have helped him syphon into bottles many times and we did it over the open door to the dishwasher to try and catch the run off--which was not always successful. Now, set those wet sticky bottles down on the counter?----and you have a major cc issue.

We only make gluten-free beer now--but it is still a sticky, messy operation.

This is why I suggested to you that it is more likely a cc issue.

I am sorry if you think that six different members of this c.com community, with many cumulative years of experience would steer you wrong on this subject. We wouldn't, hon.

I have researched this for you all morning and I simply cannot find any evidence that gluten can be in vapors. (I found one woman's blog that mentions it, but she posted no scientific or medical references so it means nothing to me.)

I might speculate that if you have a WHEAT ALLERGY in addition to celiac, that maybe somehow it evoked an allergic response in you, but I am just guessing here.

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I don't think the semantics are relevant here. You got sick. You identified the situation that made you sick. I'm guessing you will avoid such situations in the future. :)

In the end, it doesn't matter what anyone else says, or does. You are responsible for your health, and you seem willing to take that responsibility seriously. You're doing the right thing. :)

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Chopper...Please don't be upset or take offense. I think the use of the terms psychosomatic and psychological were perhaps not the best to use. And I think what they are really trying to say is that gluten has not actually entered your body. However considering the definition I found of psychosomatic I can understand why one might be upset.

Psychosomatic...bodily ailment or symptom caused by mental or emotional disturbance in which psychological stresses adversely affect physiological (somatic) functioning to the point of distress. Psychosomatic disorders include hypertension, respiratory ailments, gastrointestinal disturbances, migraine and tension headaches, sexual dysfunction and dermatitis. Many patients with psychosomatic conditions respond to a combination of drug therapy and psychotherapy.

I would like to draw on my many years of being a nurse to say what I think may have happened. Your body perceived the presence of what has become a harmful substance to it, and it reacted. In other words your body reacted as if it had been glutened even though gluten did not acutally enter your body. This is not in your mind it has more to do with a complex system of sensory neurons. As to what was the stimuli that caused your body to react this way it could have been the vapors. But something did cause your body to detect a presence of gluten or wheat and so it reacted. The body can really be a difficult thing to understand at times.

I am sure no one here meant to upset you or deny your symptoms. They are just trying to provide correct information regarding Celiacs and/or gluten sensitivity.

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I don't think the semantics are relevant here. You got sick. You identified the situation that made you sick. I'm guessing you will avoid such situations in the future. :)

In the end, it doesn't matter what anyone else says, or does. You are responsible for your health, and you seem willing to take that responsibility seriously. You're doing the right thing. :)

Thank you. Well stated!

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