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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

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Hello everyone! I am a new member, but have been lurking for a few days. I received my diagnosis about a week ago between Christmas and New Years. I am both relieved and anxious about the diagnosis. Happy to know what is making me sick, but it is a lot to take in! SO MANY QUESTIONS!!! Well, seems like I found the right place to ask those questions. ^_^

To skip my personal story about being repetitively misdiagnosed before receiving a proper diagnosis, scroll to the end of my story for the questions. I just wanted to share my experience.

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So, here is where I want to begin. Here is my story, questions attached:

In my experience, I have been sick since I was a small child.

I became anorexic at age 8, not for vanity, but because I simply felt better when I didn't eat. Then I became more sick and was diagnosed with hypothyroid disease.

I started eating 'normal' again while taking synthetic thyroid hormones and then my weight ballooned into my early teens. Then my same doctor that diagnosed me with hypothyroid disease took me off the synthetic thyroid medications when blood work returned with results showing that I no longer had hypothyroid disease.... weeiiiird.

Then it happened again off and on, not two, not three, but four times throughout highschool. Thyroid problems came and went. I then developed cystic nodules all over my body and was put through more than one round of accutane.

The cysts would disappear after 8 or so months on accutane, I would come off the accutane, be clear for a week or two, then... BLAM! Covered in cysts again!

Little did I know, hypothyroidism and cysts were symptoms... it gets a little more weird.

So, into my college years, I had a body full of scars, cysts, thyroid problems, SEVERE fatigue, inability to focus, and sudden complications with my kidneys. It soon became normal to be in pain, not remember anything/fuzzy memory, and have blood in my urine. (my grades dropped at this time - straight A's to D's and a few F's :( Parents were angry and didn't listen when I gave them my reasoning.. I felt like s$#&aki mushroom).

Doctors put me on kidney medications and then accutane.

I became anorexic again. The symptoms cleared and I felt good again... for a few months (I wasn't eating after all). I mean, my skin was clear... not a single cyst OR pimple! I could breathe better AND I had energy. I was even making straight A's again!!!

Then it occured to me that I may have food allergies.

So I saw an allergist and was then diagnosed with food allergies: dairy, wheat, ginger, and sweet potato. (And THEN my mom decided to tell me that she was hospitalized while pregnant with me for consuming dairy!) angry face, fist shake.

I began eating well. The pain would sometimes happen and the cysts returned... but they no longer covered my entire body. I would have maybe eight cysts on my back and 5 or 6 on my face at a time. I wasn't complaining... it was the best I had felt in years. Even if I did have a few off days! My parents still believe my drop in grades having nother to do with my health... :( I'm serious... I study hard and never party...blah blah blah. I'll save THAT (parental reaction and grades) for another topic.

Then I had a few episodes... so severe... I ended up in the ER several times this past semester. (grades: managed to do okay, but nothing spectacular). The doctors told me that I not only had debri in my kidneys, but I may be developing more severe problems as well.... possibly might develop kidney disease. I was placed at high risk. :( :( :(

I got to where I started drinking a gallon of water a day, no tea, no soda, no coffee, etc.

I felt better as a result but still had severe pain. I would have a hard time walking between classes and even doubled over on the sidewalk a few times because it felt as though someone had shoved a few knives into my gut and they were twisting them in many different directions at once.

I saw the school doctor and disability office and they e-mailed my teachers as a result. I was allowed a few extra minutes to get to my classes. Which, believe me, I needed! There is a strict attendence policy at my university where 3 tardies/lates = 1 absence and 3 absences = 1 drop in a letter grade. Sometimes I would be on time, sometimes 5 minutes late, every time in pain. I just couldn't live like this anymore!

So I went to the same doctor I had been seeing as a child over the break. She told me that she was going to have two separate blood tests done and not to eat for 24 hours before my appointment.

I followed orders and came in. She drew blood, labeled it, and then handed me some rye bread to eat. An hour later, she drew more blood.

Two weeks later, I came in to hear that I had low amounts of IgA and IgG antibodies in the first blood test, but in the second blood test... the amounts were HIGH.

So, after a few more tests, the results are in. I have celiac disease. I am so RELIEVED. After a LIFETIME of health complications, I have an answer. I know I have only been gluten free for a few days (I am avoiding my allergens too), but I am looking forward to becoming healthy and having energy again!

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Here is my question for you guys!

Before being diagnosed with celiac disease, were you diagnosed and treated for other things that were actually related to/tied to celiac disease?

If so, what was your misdiagnosis?

How did you feel to finally know that you had celiac disease?

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Hello, and welcome to the boards.

I was not doctor diagnosed; I had to figure it out for myself. I came to this conclusion after being diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. Since I knew of another person with a rheumatoid autoimmune disease who ate gluten free (ankylosing spondylitis), I decided to try gluten free myself, not dreaming that it would solve my gastrointestinal symptoms which had been variously labelled fibromyalgia, IBS, and "all-in-your-head". :)All (including the head :D ) resolved on a gluten free diet. However, my constant chills did not, so I had thyroid testing and remain on levothyroxine to treat my hypothyroidism. I also have stage III kidney disease - how much is attributable to gluten I do not know. It was diagnosed while I was taking diclofenac to treat the arthritis. I had to start taking diuretics in my 30's for edema. Nobody has ever connected all the dots :blink:

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I am so happy you found a root to your health problems!

I had mono when I was 19 years old. After that I suffered from extreme fatigue, bloating, and sensitivities to chemicals. I tried various methods to overcome the struggle. These included diet restrictions, excercise, doctor tests. I tried to cut out gluten once, but I substituted it with rice and peanut butter (Both are problems for me) I became more and more stringent with my diet. I used natural foods, quit sweets, and even ate vegetables!

Inspite of this I nearly died 5 years ago. That was about 25 years after the mono. My blood pressure would plummet when I stood up. After a minute or two, it was still down. My blood pressure was high. I went on supplements that brought my blood pressure to a normal curve. I felt much better, but I would mysteriously feel poorly once in a while, and could not snap out of viruses easily.

I told my chiropractor that every tissue in my body felt irritated. She was thinking some kind of food intolerances were causing it. My chiropractor asked me a couple of times if I was eating gluten. Then I looked in to gluten problems. If I had one that sure would explain alot. I did genetic testing which showed 4/4 gene alleles, two of them celiac. I took my results to an MD in hopes she would debunk the test, but she back them unquestionebly. She was looking at my "5-months-pregnant" bloated tummy.

I believe I am 7 months gluten free now. I have continued making other changes and added further supplements. My fogginess has been missing for atleast a month! I am so glad for the oppertunity to come "Back from nowhere."

I hope that you will get better soon.

Diana

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Yikes, you've had a tough go of it. That's great that you've found the root cause of it and I hope the gluten-free diet goes a long way towards making you feel better.

I

As for your questions:

Before being diagnosed with celiac disease, were you diagnosed and treated for other things that were actually related to/tied to celiac disease?

Yes. I was diagnosed with Thrombocytopenia (ITP) as a young adult about a year after having EBV and pneumonia. I think I developed (Hashimoto's) hypothyroidism a few years after that but it wasn't acknowledged by docs until this summer.

If so, what was your misdiagnosis?

I was never misdiagnosed, rather the celiac and hypothyroidism were just missed. I was the one who figured out both and the doctors just confirmed it. Up until this summer, doctors didn't call the celiac disease or hashi's anything else, I was just told I tended to get stomach aches or told to "come back if it doesn't improve"... problem was that it usually did eventually... and then it would come back again. :rolleyes: I gave up and stopped going to doctors for years and years.

How did you feel to finally know that you had celiac disease?

Really really annoyed with my doctors that they dismissed my symptoms and that I could have been MUCH healthier throughout the prime of my life. I felt quite robbed. Then I settled into the gluten-free diet and was relieved that it was so easy to treat this disease, and I was thankful that I had control over my treatment so I didn't have to rely on (idiot incompetent) doctors.

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That attendence policy is a lot easier than mine is! Every two absences = a drop of a letter in grade. 5 absences = fail. :lol: We don't have a tardy policy. But when you're sick well, that can be kinda hard :)

I hear ya. My second semester of sophmore year I got really sick, the E.R. kind. I was told nothing was wrong, etc, etc. Uhuh suuuuure <_< Dropping 40lbs in a little over a month? Vomiting and D on a near daily basis? GERD so bad that my throat was damaged? /rant

IBS was my unofficial misdiagnosis.

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Wow, from the title of the post, I thought I could relate, but after reading your story, I'm just really grateful to have not have had it so bad. It sounds as if you've been to hell and back again.

However I'm sure most can relate to many of the same problems when it comes to the medical industry.

I was going to doctors on a fairly regular basis for twenty years for one problem or another and was told there was nothing wrong with me, was prescribed drugs that didn't have any effect aside from their own negative side effects, or the worst, was told that it was all in my head. That last one is particularly frustrating. And I too had gotten to the point that I had given up on the medical industry as a whole.

My actual diagnoses included colloid nodules in my thyroid though no possible causes were ever discussed. My digestive issues were written off as IBS and I was told that probiotics would make it all disappear. They did not. Many doctors suspected crohn's disease but tests ruled that out. But most of the problems I did have were simply ignored simply because they weren't all that disruptive to life. Really bad ear aches, skin rashes, hives and eczema-like problems, minor neuropathies in hands and feet, vision problems that came and went, menstrual irregularities, really bad joint pain, and more, all pretty much dismissed by doctors.

I'd love to blame doctors entirely, angry at their arrogance and egos, dismissing my pain simply because they didn't know the cause. I can only remember one out of dozens, a rheumatologist, who actually tried to figure out the mystery, but most didn't bother.

But in hindsight, I have to remind myself that diet and nutrition are not part of a standard medical degree. And I had done plenty of research about celiac and gluten when I went in search of possible causes for my digestive issues years ago. But the information available back then was pretty much nonexistent compared to what is available today. And I didn't have anywhere near the horror story related above, most likely because I was only getting lots of gluten in my diet when I ate out.

I don't know if I have celiac disease, some degree of allergy, or an intolerance. And I suspect that in the next few years we're going to see the definitions of all of these change as the medical industry catches up and realizes that a multitude of digestive-system problems are all related to gluten, individuals simply responding in different ways.

I finally figured out that I had a problem with gluten when a knee injury kept me from getting to the grocery store and I suddenly had an influx of gluten into my diet when I started eating out instead of cooking for myself. Suddenly having all sorts of odd symptoms arise simply couldn't be just because I was exercising less. And that little light bulb went on in my head and I started researching gluten again.

Apparently I was instinctively avoiding gluten when I cooked for myself, almost never eating bread or pasta at home. I had even stopped eating my favorite canned soup and boxed side-dish mix because I noticed that they caused problems, both of them heavier on wheat pasta than the others in my cupboards.

In hindsight, test results had been showing indications of malnourishment all along, dangerously low cholesterol levels and slight anemia came and went. My hormone imbalances would vary with each yearly test. Add on the unexplained rashes and hives. Coworkers had noticed that I would start sneezing after eating, but only when I bought my lunch or breakfast which included bread. Weight loss despite increased caloric intake was recurrent. And the colloid nodules I have since learned are pretty standard for gluten problems.

I'm still angry and disappointed by most of the doctors I have ever seen. Fortunately, the nurses who are now available at my local pharmacy seem to know just as much if not more, but without the attitude, and can help out with most of the day-to-day medical needs. I still haven't found new doctors that I trust and don't even know what type would actually be able to help most now that my body is recovering. With an illness that is so recently becoming understood, who could possibly know what to watch out for in the future when it comes to past damage done?

And I still haven't gotten past some of the negative feelings of wondering how much different my life could have been had this problem been discovered sooner. I've learned that family members really don't want to hear about it because then they may have to take into consideration the hereditary factor and change their own eating habits. And my mother seems to be the toughest nut to crack, having been so proud that her children didn't have allergies all of these years, and unable to admit a perceived weakness now. She simply doesn't believe that I have a gluten problem at all.

I suppose you have to have gotten to the point where you feel really awful before you can see living gluten free as a positive thing.

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    • The reason I think it was the shampoo? Process of elimination. Our house is almost entirely gluten free (except for this shampoo which slipped through the cracks until I read the ingredient label). My husband has bread that he eats at lunch, but he practices something that resembles aseptic technique from the lab when he's making his sandwiches. He's been doing this for years now and I've never been glutened from within my home. The previous week I hadn't eaten out, I cooked all my food, I don't eat processed food and I never eat something from a shared facility.  Usually if I get glutened it's a single dose sort of thing and it follows a very predictable course, to the point where I can estimate when I got glutened within 24 hours of when it happened. However, this time, I was feeling achy and arthritic and moody for about a week before it got bad enough for me to recognize it as the result of gluten exposure, at which point we went searching and found the shampoo (and conditioner, which does leave more of a residue than shampoo), which he immediately stopped using. Within three days I was feeling back to normal (which is the usual course for me).  Sure, it could have been something else, but I know how sensitive I am, and, as silly as it sounds, it was the only thing that made sense. The other thing you said: You're correct, mine was not a rock solid celiac diagnosis, but I have no doubt that gluten is the problem. I was SICK. I went through two different gluten challenges in an effort to get a more straightforward diagnosis during which I was a barely functioning human being. Consuming gluten may not have given me blunted villi or elevated antibodies, but it did inflame my gut, and actually started to damage my liver. If you look at my diagnosis thread, I had elevated liver enzymes, which have been correlated with celiac disease in the past. There was no alternative explanation for the liver enzymes, he checked EVERYTHING.  I too am a scientist and I have spent a lot of time with the literature trying to make sense of my condition.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26150087 I also have no doubt that gluten was damaging my intestines in some way, as any prolonged gluten exposure in the past has inevitably been followed by a severe FODMAP intolerance that goes away once I've eliminated the gluten and given myself a month or so to heal.  I also had a very fast diagnosis following the onset of symptoms (~1 year) so it's possible that the disease never had a chance to manifest as full celiac. I wasn't willing to eat gluten long enough to find out. As a result of my diagnosis, hazy as it was, I am *meticulously* gluten free. It is not a fad for me. I don't occasionally cheat. It is my life, for better or worse. All of that being said, I'm not sure what my diagnosis has to do with your question. You say you're not trying to be rude, but when you bring up my diagnosis in a thread that has nothing to do with diagnostics, it seems like you're trying to undermine the validity of my disease or the validity of my input in this forum. If I'm being hypersensitive, I apologize, but that's how you came across on my end. I'll admit that the fact that my diagnosis wasn't more straight forward does make me a bit defensive, but I promise that even if I didn't have a solid diagnosis, I interact with the world as though I did, and I'm not out there giving people the wrong idea about celiac disease by not taking it seriously. If there was a connection between your question and my diagnostics that I missed I would appreciate you giving me the chance to better understand what you were asking. 
    • I am just curious.  As a scientist (and I am not trying to be rude), how can you determine if hydrologized wheat protein from your husband’s shampoo was actually the culprit?  If I recall at your diagnosis, you were seronegative, Marsh Stage I, gene positive,  but your doctor still  suspected celiac disease.  You improved on a gluten diet.  Other than observation, how do you really know?  Could it not be something else that triggered your symptoms?   I firmly believe that even trace amounts of gluten (under 20 ppm), can impact sensitive celiacs.  But traces of a protein within a shampoo from someone else’s hair that was rinsed?    
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