Coeliac Disease: Gluten is my Enemy and Wheat is my Foe
It would seem coeliac disease is slowly taking my friends one by one, it seems whenever I am invited out to 'break bread' with a friend they admit an intolerance to gluten and I end up eating the baguette alone, in shame. This autoimmune disorder of the small intestine is slowly making it impossible to find someone to eat a cupcake with or at the very least drive me to the bakery. You would think a condition that affects 1 in 1,750 or 1 in 105 people [in the United States] would have been more selective in which one of my friends it chose to take but, at the moment, there number rests at eight people.
Yes, you read that last line correctly ... eight people.
Coeliac disease is caused by a sensitivity to gliadin, a prolamin (gluten protein) found in wheat and other common grains such as barley and rye. Without getting too scientific on the issue basically upon exposure to gliadin the immune system cross-reacts with the small bowel-tissue, causing an inflammatory reaction (or in layman terms, swelling). If you have turned into 'The View' in the past eight years I am sure you have heard Elizabeth Hasselbeck talk about her strict gluten-free diet (or G-Free Diet).
Just so you know, while the disease is caused by a particular nasty reaction to several wheat proteins, it is not the same as a wheat allergy. Write that down because your doctor will probably suggest you have a wheat allergy months before s/he diagnoses you with coeliac disease.
Symptoms of Coeliac Disease
Depending on whom you ask there are several equally horrible and uncomfortable symptoms of coeliac disease. Unfortunately, considering the similarities to other diseases sufferers often are misdiagnosed and continue to suffer throughout the rest of their lives. Depending on the degree of malabsorption (difficulty absorbing nutrients from food) symptoms can range from no symptoms to many or very severe symptoms.
Whenever my friend M went out to dinner with her italian boyfriend she would leave the restaurant feeling bloated, exhausted and feeling extremely nauseous. M always assumed she had an allergy to something in the delicious pasta dishes and slowly began systematically nixing dinner options from the menu. Three months later she had witled the options down to calamari and a few salads, she had dropped fifteen pounds and felt disheartened by her doctors lack of answers to her many questions.
It wasn't until she stumbled into a conversation with one of our mutual friend, who had recently been diagnosed with coeliac disease, did M head back to her doctor with new found information. Within a couple of weeks she had been diagnosed with coeliac disease and started her G-Free Diet.
Some of the symptoms include:
- Abdominal cramps, gas and bloating
- Failure to thrive (in children)
- Fluid retention
- Foul-smelling or grayish stools that are often fatty or oily
- Muscle weakness
- Vitamin B12 / Vitamin D / Vitamin K deficiency
- Weight loss
- Hematuria (red urine)
- Muscle wasting
- Voracious appetite
Coeliac Disease Uncovered (from YouTube)
I was diagnosed with a gastric ulcer four years ago and one of the specialists I saw suggested I may be suffering from coeliac disease. My symptoms at the time were more to do with my ruptured ulcer but I wrote the name of the disease on a post-it note and shoved it into my wallet, it wasn't until a few months ago did I bother to look it up.
Because I am on top of things, simple as that.
Like some of my friends and family I have been dealing with some pretty severe symptoms, especially when I indulge in heavy pastas, bread and certain peanut binges. I am no stranger to painful bloating ... I am lactose-intolerant. I have been toying with trying a G-Free Diet to simply test the waters and see if I feel better but I haven't been able to step away from bread.
Because, like cheese, bread makes it very hard for me to turn my back on.
Although, it should be noted that many people diagnosed with coeliac disease are often asymptomatic at time of diagnosis.