Journey Forth #1 : What is Celiac Disease and its Common Symptoms
The list of common symptoms is actually quite long... this post would probably be a page longer if I described all the symptoms that have been attributed to celiac sprue. No patient will have all of these symptoms (at least I hope not!) and many will only have a few of them. However, no matter how you look at it, these symptoms cover more than just the digestive system which explains why this disorder affects the individual in almost all aspects of their life.
Abdominal pain and cramps
ADHD - like behavior
Anxiety, depression and 'foggy mind'
Bloating and gas
Bone and joint pain
Chronic fatigue, sometimes 'knock out' sleep
Constipation or diarrhea
Emotional challenges including anger and irritability
Headaches and migraines
Missed menstrual periods, infertility and miscarriages
Nausea / vomiting
Restless leg syndrome
Tingling in the extremities
In some ways, I am very typical. I have struggled with canker sores since my childhood and have thrown up at least once a day since the age of sixteen until a few months after diagnosis and the subsequent dietary changes. One thing about the vomiting is that the abdominal pain would lessen or disappear after throwing up... a blessing in the yuck. :) I can sometimes struggle with depression, but most of the time my major emotional changes focus around anxiety and irritability. I have been told several times I am infertile (Bug is the best miracle I have ever received!) and I have never had a regular cycle until about a year after dietary changes. I have struggled with headaches, random abdominal pain and sometimes I wake up because my legs are shifting and 'twitching' while I'm resting. I also tend to feel tired all the time and sleep is something that I am not very successful with as often as I would like.
There is a big difference between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity although it is not as easily seen. The big difference is that people with gluten sensitivity have the majority of the symptoms, but they do not have the intestinal damage as part of the package- the autoimmune part isn't their burden. Don't get me wrong- their bodies sensitivity to gluten is still uncomfortable and probably many other descriptive words. But the immune system doesn’t try to tear apart the body and that my friends, it a wonderful thing! How a person is diagnosed is quite simple. If you have the problems with gluten, but have no antibodies in your blood and a clean endoscopy.... then you are simply gluten sensitive. (Living it isn’t quite that simple, but I digress.)
So here is the first part of the journey! Next up I'll write about the a few of the less common problems – such as skin trouble as well as appropriate food and items to avoid. Thoughts...?