Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Overall description & symptoms

Reading online about celiac disease can be extremely confusing and sometimes it seems like all you read are the symptoms and nothing else. So here is MY description of it.

1. You are born with it. Basically, your body doesn't produce an enzyme that helps us digest. When we eat gluten, symptoms become worse (once it's been triggered) and you become very, very unhealthy (without realizing it!) Your small intestine becomes damaged, losing the part of the intestine that absorbs nutrients. So basically, I have lived 21 years and have never absorbed nutrients. Well, I have absorbed SOME, but not anywhere near as much as I've needed. Because of such, I've been diagnosed multiple times with different problems such as anemia or thyroid disorder. 

2. Some of us are assymptomatic (not showing symptoms) until later. Later as in, something triggers it. OR some people were detected with it as a baby or child. 

3. It's hard to recognize if you have it because you've been living with it your whole life...UNTIL you find a blog like this to make you aware of it :) OR like most people, complain of stomach aches and beg their docs to test them for CD. (docs have a pride problem and don't usually love diagnosing us with it..) I was told by many many people that I should get checked out because I started getting these bumps on my back and arms and face that looked like bug bites (on my face, they looked like zits so I didn't think anything of it) but they stayed there for 2 months. They would flare up and down; become red and big, then get small and almost disappear. Until I showed my doctor these, he wouldn't test me for CD. Before my "bumps", I had never really read about celiac disease, or even gluten-intolerance so it was quite a shock once I did. BUT all the symptoms made sense. Some I had to think really hard if I had those symptoms because I was so used to them.

Symptoms (vary between people)
-fatigue (lack of iron...anemia- my most apparent symptom. i used to take 3 hour naps. now i can't nap if i tried since being on the GF diet)
-becoming bloated (not one of my apparent symptoms)
-weight loss or failure to gain weight. (for me, besides growing up, i stayed the same weight. i still wear clothes from the 8th grade)
-diarrhea OR constipation...or both at different times.
-cramping and indigestion
-mouth ulcers (not one of my apparent symptoms)
-forgetfulness (totally me)
-DH- the little bumps that I got...

If you these symptoms sound like you, GO INTO THE DOCTOR! Be prepared because they may tell you that it's probably just IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) but you fight to the death! Get them to do the blood test. If it comes out negative and your still certain you have it, then try the GF diet for about a month or two and see then if it has an effect on you. I saw results almost immediately- the way I digested once I was on the diet. But for some people, it may take longer for the intestines to heal. I was lucky because my tests results showed that my levels were as high as they can get, but some people get a false/negative and the doctor sends them away with nothing to chew on except the bill.

4. The GF diet is the only treatment for gluten-intolerant folks or people with CD. 

5. There is no pill (like there is with lactose intolerant people) that you can take to help you temporarily while you enjoy a nice bowl of lucky charms. Sorry folks.

6. The longer it is untreated (the more you cheat or go undiagnosed) the more damaged you'll become. You may end up becoming lactose intolerant, AND allergic to other foods BECAUSE you have been eating gluten. This is mild compared to long term consequences like: infertility (that made me run to the doctor once I read that) brittle teeth, osteoporosis, colon cancer and intestinal cancer.

7. You have celiac disease your entire life.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post!

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