Gluten Intolerance and it's strange symptoms - Personal Experience
Gluten Free Resources
Gluten, what a funny little word. A funny little word that almost ruined my heath.
I grew up in Philadelphia, land of the cheesesteak sandwich and the hoagie. For 35 years I ate a "normal" diet with no known allergies or issues, or so I thought. I have always had knee problems, and a cold beer often would make me feel lousy. Occasionally I would have the 'Trots' after a meal. But all of this was normal, right? Well once I hit my mid-thirties I developed a whole host of strange symptoms. For starters my knee pain got worse and all of a sudden now my shoulder started hurting and clicking. I started developing eye twitching and tremors. Certain foods all of a sudden certain foods would bother me. After eating them they run though me like an Olympic sprinter. After some meals I would feel tired, exhausted and washed out. Heart burn and night reflux started 3-4 nights a week. What was going on? People you say "You are just getting old" or "It happens when you get older".
I decided that it was time to eat healthy. Following conventional wisdom I cut my fat and upped my "Whole Grain". Honestly I felt better for a little while, but then more problems. Rashes started appearing on my face and scalp. I started experiencing frequent headaches, more eye twitching, night sweats started, swollen glands and my personal favorite, a phantom buzzing in my legs like a phone on vibrate.
My wife started to comment that I was becoming irritable and seemed to be angry more frequently and that I looked like hell. My acid reflux went from mild to now starting to vomit in my sleep. You can imagine what being afraid to fall asleep in fear that you may choke to death on vomit at night will do to you. So now add insomnia to the mix.
I stared to slowly develop periods of brain fog and forgetfulness. I would forget complete conversations that happened early that day. I had problems staying focused and concentrating for more than a few minutes. I thought I was dying and no one could tell my why and kept pushing prescriptions on me which did not help.
The Sum of All Evil
An Unexpected Break Though
It was around that time that my youngest child started eating solid foods. Soon after starting he quickly developed eczema rashes on his legs, arms and cheeks. These were horrible rashes that no topical cream ever cleared up. Pediatrician kept telling us that this can happen and it should clear up when gets older. Here was my infant son covered in painful itch rashes and no one could tell me why. To me that was not acceptable. I started scouring the internet for a solution. I stumbled upon a few stories of families with similar stories that had success either cutting dairy and/or gluten out of their kid's diet.
Armed with my new internet knowledge I convinced my wife (easily, as she was as frustrated as I was) to place him on an elimination diet for 2 weeks. An elimination diet is complete removal of possible trigger foods for at least 2 weeks. This allows the body to heal from the initial reaction. Once 2 weeks has passed the suspected trigger foods are re-introduced while monitoring for a reaction. In this case we did not need the full two weeks to know that we hit on something. After only three days the rash started clearing up. After two weeks there were only very small patches left. We decided to wait another full week. After that additional week he was rash free.
Since based on our reading that milk was the more likely offender we decided to introduce gluten (Wheat, Rye, Oat Barley) back into his diet first. All it took was one little handful of crackers and the next morning the rash re-appeared in full force on his face.
Armed with this information I started researching wheat allergies and auto-immune wheat intolerance. It was while reading up on Celiac's and Gluten Sensitivity Auto-Immunity issues and stumbled of the phrase that changed my life. "Gluten sensitivity is Genetic, and often a history of problems can be traced thought family medical history"
No it can't be! I have been eating this all my life. A quick re-read of the symptoms list and I had 18 of the 40 listed. Which according to this source if you have 2 it is suspect, 4 or more strong possibility, but 18. I wondered, Could I have this too?
I also compared my family history against the symptoms list. IBS (my mother), Gallbladder Issues (my grandmother) and so on. The symptoms list was like a family history of post dinner digestive woes. I was floored that we could have been quietly destroying out heath all these years and not really knowing it. That quickly changed to feeling encouraged that I might have found a solution to my own strange collection of symptoms. My crazy seemingly un-related issues were all connected. I started a Gluten Free diet the very next day, and while I messed up a few things early on I started to feel better. At first it was subtle, very subtle but each day, each week that progressed I felt a little better.
Today I have been Gluten Free for 3 years. 90% of what I was dealing with is completely gone and the remaining 10% is very mild. I now know when I eat something with gluten as within 24 hours my knees start hurting, my shoulders start hurting and that darn phantom buzzing in my leg starts back up. Luckily things seem to clear up faster then they used to, and I am getting really good at keeping a clean diet. Since then my Mother, after some pushing, has been diagnosed with Celiac's disease, has started a gluten free diet and is feeling healthier than she has in years.
I hope, if nothing else, that my experiences helps someone else figure out that they have a gluten issue and makes a life change that starts healing.
Take Care and God Bless.
For those more technical
Known Celiac Symptoms
Celiac Disease Symptoms and Associated Disorders
Below is a list of symptoms from Celiac.com. The list is vast and at times overwhelming. Many people will have periodic singular symptoms on their own, I would contact your physician should you develop patterns of multiple symptoms or you medical history is a checklist of the items below. As I mentioned above I had 18 frequent and pronounced symptoms from this list.
BLOOD SYSTEM PROBLEMS
- Anemia, Folic acid
- Anemia, Iron
- Anemia, Vitamin B12
- Anti-Endomysium Antibodies (EMA)
- Anti-Gliadin Antibodies (AGA)
- Anti-Tissue Transglutaminase Antibodies (tTG)
- Associated Autoimmune Antibodies
- Bone Alkaline Phosphatase Enzyme, Elevated
- Calcium, Low
- Cholesterol, Low (below 156)
- Coagulation Factors, Low
- Copper, Low
- Glucose, Low or elevated
- Homocysteine, Elevated
- Hyperprolactinemia (elevated prolactin hormone)
- Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura
- Liver Enzymes, Elevated
- Magnesium, Low
- Phosphorus, Low
- Plasma Proteins, Low
- Potassium, Low
- Prolonged Prothrombin Time
- Transient Erythroblastopenia
- Zinc, Low
BODY COMPOSITION PROBLEMS
- Appetite, Increased
- Loss of Vitality
- Weight Gain, Unexplained
- Weight Loss, Unexplained
CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM PROBLEMS
- Angina Pectoris
- Aortic Vasculitis
- Idiopathic Dilated Cardiomyopathy
- Nosebleeds, Unexplained
DIGESTIVE SYSTEM PROBLEMS
- Abdominal Pain
- Adenocarcinoma of the Small Intestine
- Aphthous Ulcers (Canker sores in mouth)
- Autoimmune Cholangitis
- Beta Casein Enteropathy (Cow's dairy intolerance similar to celiac disease)
- Bleeding, Unexplained
- Cancer of the Esophagus
- Cancer of the Pharynx
- Candida Infections
- Carbohydrate Malabsorption
- Cheilosis (Red lips, cracking/ oozing at corners of mouth)
- Colitis, Collagenous
- Colitis, Lymphocytic
- Colitis, Ulcerative
- Colonic Volvulus (Loop of intestine twists causing strangulation of intestine)
- Constipation Alternating with Diarrhea
- Crohn's Disease
- Defective Tooth Enamel (Yellow, white spots, missing enamel)
- Delayed Gastric Emptying (Early fullness after eating)
- Diarrhea, acute (Also called celiac crisis)
- Diarrhea, chronic
- Duodenal Erosions in the Second Part of Duodenum (Small ulcers)
- Dysphagia (Difficulty swallowing)
- Edema of Small Intestinal Lining
- Esophageal Small Cell Cancer
- Esophageal Motor Abnormalities (Poor muscle activity/coordination)
- Gastric Ulcer (Stomach ulcers)
- Gastric Ulcerations
- Gastritis, Collagenous
- Gastritis, Lymphocytic
- Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Gastro-Intestinal Occult Bleeding (Blood in stool that is not visible to naked eye)
- Gluten Sensitive Enteritis
- Gums bleeding/ swollen (Purplish in adults/ red in children)
- H. Pylori Bacter (Infection of the stomach)
- Impaired Gall Bladder Motility
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Jejunitis, chronic
- Lactose Intolerance (Gas, bloating, loose stools from milk)
- Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Malabsorption of Nutrients
- Maltose Intolerance (Gas, bloating, loose stools from maltose, a simple carbohydrate)
- Oral Mucosal Lesions (Mouth lesions)
- Plummer-Vinson Syndrome
- Post-cricoid Cancer
- Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (Bile backs up in liver)
- Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (Scarring of bile ducts in liver)
- Small Bowel Intussusception (One loop of intestine slips into another)
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
- Steatorrhea (Pale, smelly, floating stool hard to flush or sticks to toilet)
- Sucrose Intolerance (Gas, bloating, mucous in stool from sugar)
- Tongue (Beefy, red, smooth, burning)
- Tongue (Fiery red, smooth, swollen, sore)
- Tongue (Magenta, swollen)
- Tongue (Pale, smooth, burning)
GLANDULAR SYSTEM PROBLEMS
Disorders of the glands.
- Addison's Disease (Adrenal gland failure)
- Autoimmune Hepatitis
- Autoimmune Thyroiditis (Hypothyroidism)
- Diabetes Mellitus Type I
- Diabetic Instability
- Gastro-Intestinal Complications of Type 1 Diabetes
- Grave's Disease (Hyperthyroidism)
- Hepatic Granulomatous Disease
- Idiopathic Hypoparathyroidism
- Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
- Pancreatic Insufficiency
- Parathyroid Carcinoma
- Primary Hyperparathyroidism
- Secondary Hypoparathyroidism
IMMUNE SYSTEM PROBLEMS
Disorders of antibody production.
- Allergic Rhinitis
- Antiphospholipid Syndrome
- Autoimmune Disorders in Celiac Disease
- Autoimmune Disorders in Dermatitis Herpetiformis
- Autoimmune Polyglandular Syndromes
- Common Variable Immunodeficiency
- Food Allergies, IgE and non-IgE Immune Responses
- IgA Deficiency
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
- Urticaria, chronic (Hives)
INTEGUMENTARY SYSTEM PROBLEMS
Disorders of skin, hair, and nails.
- Alopecia Areata (Patches of hair loss)
- Alopecia, Diffuse (Balding)
- Cutaneous Vasculitis
- Cutis Laxa
- Dermatitis Herpetiformis
- Edema (Swelling)
- Eythema Elevatum Diutinum
- Erythema Nodosum
- Follicular Hyperkeratosis (Dry rough skin/ plugged hair follicles on body)
- Ichthyosis, Acquired
- Itchy Skin Rash
- Koilonychia (Thin nails that flatten, ends progressively turning up instead of down)
- Nails, Dry and brittle that chip, peel, crack or break easily
- Nails with Horizontal and Vertical Ridges/Fragile
- Nail with Rounded and Curved Down Ends, Dark, Dry
- Nails with White Spots
- Nails with Splinter Hemorrhages
- Pityriasis Rubra Pilaris
- Prurigo Nodularis (Hyde's Prurigo)
- Thin hair
LYMPATIC SYSTEM PROBLEMS
- B-cell non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
- Cryptic Intestinal T-cell Lymphoma (Refractory Sprue)
- Enteropathy Associated T-cell Lymphoma (EATL)
- Extraintestinal Lymphomas
- Intraepithelial Lymphocytosis in Small Bowel Samples
- Mesenteric Lymph Node Cavitation
- Hyposplenism (Atrophy of spleen)
MUSCULAR SYSTEM PROBLEMS
- Hypokalemic Rhabdomyolysis (Acute, severe potassium deficiency)
- Muscle Pain and Tenderness
- Muscle Spasm and Cramps
- Muscle Wasting
- Muscle Weakness
- Osteomalacic Myopathy
NERVOUS SYSTEM PROBLEMS
- Ataxia, Gait Disturbance
- Ataxia, Gluten
- Ataxia, Progressive Myoclonic
- Brain Atrophy
- Cerebral Perfusion Abnormalities (Poor blood flow)
- Chonic Fatigue Syndrome
- Cortical Calcifying Angiomatosis
- Fatigue/ Lassitude
- Inability to Concentrate
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Nervous System Disorders
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy
- Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders
- Vasculitis of the Central Nervous System
- Bronchial Pneumonia
- Idiopathic Pulmonary Hemosiderosis
- Increased Pulmonary Permeability
- Increased Susceptibility to Tuberculosis
- Lung Cavities or Abcess
- Non-Response to Tuberculosis Treatment
- Pneumococcal Septicemia
SENSORY SYSTEM PROBLEMS
Disorders of sense organ structure and function.
- Bitot's Spots (Foamy patches on whites of eye)
- Bloodshot Eyes
- Blurred Vision
- Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca
- Ocular Myopathy
- Smell, Loss of
- Taste, Loss of
- Uveitis, Bilateral
SKELETAL SYSTEM PROBLEMS
Disorders of bone, joints and teeth.
- Bone Fracture
- Bone Pain
- Enteropathic Arthritis
- Osteitis Fibrosa
- Psoriatic Arthritis
- Recurrent Monoarthritis
URINARY SYSTEM PROBLEMS
- IgA Nephropathy
- Kidney Stones
- Urinary Tract Infection
REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM PROBLEMS IN FEMALES
- Amenorrhea (Absence of menstrual period)
- Early Menopause
- Late Menarche (Late start of menstrual periods)
- Premenstrual Syndrome
- Dysmenorrhea (Painful menstrual periods)
- Dyspareunia (Painful intercourse)
REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM PROBLEMS IN MALES
- Sperm Abnormalities
REPRODUCTION: PREGNANCY, LABOR & DELIVERY AND PUERPERIUM PROBLEMS
- Severe Iron Deficiency Anemia in Pregnancy
- Short Duration of Breast Feeding
- Complications During Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery
- Complications After Childbirth
CHILD DEVELOPMENT PROBLEMS
- Autism and Learning Disorders
- Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
- Cancer Predisposition in Children
- Chronic Bullous Dermatosis
- Delayed Puberty in Boys
- Delayed Puberty in Girls
- Dermatitis Herpetiformis
- Developmental Delay
- Failure to Thrive and Growth Retardation
- Fecal Occult Blood (Blood found in stool that is not visible to the naked eye)
- Glycogenic Acanthosis
- Juvenile Autoimmune Thyroid Disease
- Juvenile Diabetes Type 1
- Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
- Abnormal Blood Studies
- Latent Anemia in Enzymopathies of Small Intestine (Lack of enzymes produced by villi)
- Penicilllin V Impaired Absorption
- Refractory Anemia (Unresponsive to iron therapy)
- Short Staure
- Stroke in Childhood
- Confused/ Faulty Thinking
- Faulty Learning
- Loss of Memory
- Loss of Immediate Memory
- Poor Memory
- Reduced Learning
- Slow Thinking
- Scattered Thinking
BB's Grocery Outlet
Making Gluten Free affordable - Grocery Outlets
While gluten free living can help you feel better, it can also be a serious drain on your finances. Many times Gluten Free products are 150-200% more expensive than there evil counterparts and often with less product in the package. Our family is now a 100% gluten free household and with five mouths to feed the costs are adding up.
We live in the suburbs of Philadelphia and discovered a chain of scratch and dent stores nearby. These scratch and dent stores are starting to get influxes of Gluten Free products. We were finding products and brands we normally use at prices that were well.. insane.
For example we will normally spend $4.00 on a Gluten Free baking mix. They had the same product with a dented box at BB's for $.75. They had boxes of GFbreakfast cearals for $1.00 a box. I think we pay $1.00 a bowl!!!
At the end of our 1st shopping trip there we spent $110.00, at home we calculated the total value at our normal store to be over $450.00.
So far 99% of what we have eaten from there has been the quality we expect. We now shop there ever moth to stock up on essentials and save that money for vacations.
The chain we use is called BB's near lancaster PA. But search around to see if there is similar in your area, if you find one comment below.
Aldi The grocery chain has come out with a great line of Gluten free food. At last check they had about 20 different product including a good baking and pancake mix. These items are about 70% less than comparable product at larger grocery stores.
Trader Joes Has become a great place to shop Gluten Free without breaking the bank. They offer an ever changing variety of items at prices that won't break your budget.
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© 2013 Robert W Shaw
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