Posted in The Basics

Gluten Intolerant? – A Self Test

Going gluten free is not a trend!  It is a permanent lifestyle where even small amounts of gluten exposure can cause problems, so it should be taken very seriously.

Some basic info:
The American Celiac Disease Alliance (ACDA) explains that there is a difference between Celiac Disease, wheat allergy and gluten intolerance/sensitivity and that all three are “treated similarly, in that patients with these conditions must remove wheat from their diet. It is important to note, however, that there is a difference between these three medical problems. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition, where the body’s immune system starts attacking normal tissue, such as intestinal tissue, in response to eating gluten. Because of this, people with celiac disease are at risk for malabsorption of food, which cause nutritional deficiencies and may result in conditions such as iron deficiency anemia, osteopenia, and osteoporosis.  Persons with a wheat allergy or gluten-intolerance usually do not have severe intestinal damage, and therefore are not at risk for these nutritional deficiencies.  They also are not at increased risk of developing other autoimmune conditions.”

The ACDA also explains a bit about the potential risks with Celiac vs. allergy or intolerance/sensitivity “celiac disease involves the activation of a particular type of white blood cell, the T lymphocyte, as well as other parts of the immune system, which may increase the risk of developing GI cancers, in particular lymphomas, in persons with celiac disease.  Since food allergies and intolerances do not involve this particular immune system pathway, these patients are not at increased risk for these cancers.”

Keep in mind that unlike a food allergy or food intolerance, celiac disease is an inherited condition.  This means family members may have it, too.  If someone in your family is diagnosed, ACDA recommends that first degree relatives (parents, children, siblings) are screened as well.

Have you ever wondered if you were gluten intolerant?
If you think you might have Ceiliac Disease, have a wheat allergy or have gluten sensitivity/intolerance you need to go to a specialist.  However, if you can’t afford it at this time, you can try a quick self test that could help determine if gluten could be your problem.

This is a simple test that I have adapted from one found at Glutenology.net.

Sensitivity to Gluten Self Test 
Check the symptoms you are experiencing that you can’t attribute to legitimate conditions.

For example: if you have asthma that you developed from working with chemicals or in a mine, do not check it as that can be clearly attributed to that environment.  However, if you have asthma and have not been exposed to anything where you would develop it, check it.

One more example, if you have diarrhea because you have a virus or ate sushi out of a vendors trunk, do not check it.  However, if you have diarrhea often and can’t attribute it to anything else then check it.

Gut:

    • Craving baked goods (cake, cookies, brownies)
    • Craving high sugar foods
    • Frequent intestinal bloating or gas especially after eating
    • IBS – irritable bowel syndrome
    • Acid reflux – GERD (aka heartburn)
    • Indigestion
    • Constipation
    • Diarrhea
    • Frequent nausea and or vomiting
    • Difficulty gaining weight (children under the growth curve)
    • Iron deficiency anemia

Head &Nervous System:

    • Frequent headaches
    • Sinus congestion
    • Migraine Headaches
    • Poor memory
    • Vertigo
    • Difficulty recalling words
    • Brain fog
    • Poor concentration
    • Been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD
    • Suffer with frequent vertigo (dizziness)
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Neuropathy
    • Irrational irritability
    • Mood swings
    • Restless leg syndrome
    • Diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
    • Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s

Muscle and Joint:

    • Frequent joint pains with or without activity
    • Chronic muscle aches
    • Migrating joint pain (without injury)
    • Frequent muscle spasms (especially in the legs)
    • Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia
    • Diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis (RA, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Sjogren’s)
    • Bone pain
    • Growing pains
    • Osteoporosis or osteopenia

Hormonal:

    • Fatigue
    • Inability to lose weight
    • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
    • Infertility
    • History of miscarriage or spontaneous abortion
    • Menstrual problems – PMS
    • Thyroid disease
    • Diagnosis of hyperprolactinemia
    • Diagnosis of Diabetes (type I or type II)
    • Hypoglycemia
    • PCOS (polycystic ovary disease)
    • Endometriosis

Immune:

    • Chronic urinary tract infections
    • Chronic respiratory infections
    • Asthma
    • Vaginal, oral, or nail bed yeast infections

Skin:

    • Fever blisters or mouth ulcers
    • Skin rash
    • Eczema
    • Psoriasis
    • Dermatitis Herpetiformis**
    • Vitiligo

Other Internal Diseases/Problems:

    • Gall bladder problems
    • Elevated liver enzymes
    • Non alcoholic fatty liver
    • Autoimmune hepatitis
    • Lymphoma
    • Platelet disorders

RESULTS
The results are pretty simple.  If you have checked more than 8 of these problems, you may want to consider that you have gluten intolerance, especially if you have checked several of the problems listed in red.  In particular, dermatitis herpetiformis which is a skin condition known to be caused by gluten.

The above list is only some of the symptoms of gluten intolerance/sensitivity.  There are 200-300 symptoms.  From this list, the symptoms listed in black can be caused by gluten intolerance.  The symptoms in red are often mis-diagnosed conditions that could be caused by gluten intolerance.

When I did this test myself, I checked off TWENTY FOUR of the symptoms listed above, many of which were red.  I had been mis-diagnosed with several different things and was frustrated as to why the medicines they were giving me were not working (in addition to causing other problems).  Once I went gluten free, I eliminated about 18 of these symptoms. Eighteen!  I feel better than I have in years.  True story.

Keep in mind I am not a doctor and am not dispensing medical advise.  I am a self-diagnosed, gluten-intolerant woman who has happily experienced the benefit of going gluten free.  To read more about my story click HERE.  If you have checked off a whole bunch of symptoms and are willing to consider that you may have an issue with gluten, please get to a doctor (one who is experienced with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity/intolerance) soon and get yourself checked out.

If you, for whatever reason, are unable to get to a doctor at this time and think you may have a problem with gluten – do a gluten-free trial to see if it makes a difference.  Check out other areas of my website for more information, or do a search online to get more information about how to start a trial.  Then get yourself to a specialist as soon as you can. The key to your feeling better may be as simple as eliminating this from your diet!!

Live and LOVE gluten free!

Posted in The Basics

What Does Gluten DO to me?

Well lets start with the fact that gluten has NO nutritional benefits.  So by removing gluten from your diet, you will not be missing out on something important.  There are many people who have no issues at all with gluten and this post is NOT about them.  This post is for the 15% of U.S. population who have gluten sensitivity in some form.

Those with some form of gluten sensitivity can experience many problems such as hives, difficulty breathing, and digestive issues; in serious cases, a person can experience anaphylaxis, a sudden and severe reaction that can be life-threatening.  Gluten can also cause damage and inflammation in the small intestine, bloating, weight loss, joint pain, weight gain, fatigue and headaches.

For those of you who might like a little more detailed description of what it does in your body: you have small hair-like projections on the intestinal wall which are called villi.  Their function is to absorb the nutrients and vitamins as food passes through the intestines and help break it down. Gluten attacks the villi, wearing them down so that they can no longer function as they should (no longer absorbs nutrients and vitamins) which leaves you malnourished.

Sometimes, tiny holes are created in the intestinal lining, which lets food particles leak into your bloodstream rather than being broken down and absorbed normally. Your body’s natural defense system will fight these “foreign invaders” and attack the body.  You may see symptoms like skin rashes, eczema, bloating, mouth sores, and headaches and more.

Both Celiac disease and gluten intolerance create inflammation throughout the body, with 200-300 possible effects across all organ systems including your brain, heart, joints, digestive tract and more. It can be the single cause behind many different “diseases.”

Re-read that part……….TWO to THREE HUNDRED possible symptoms!  That is crazy! No wonder why it is so often mis-diagnosed.  Different organs can be affected by different types of gluten sensitivity and it can affect more than one area, again complicating diagnosis.  

When damage takes place in the cerebellum, the balance center of the brain that controls coordination and complex movements like walking, speaking and swallowing.   This is called Gluten Ataxia and is a neurologic condition characterized by the loss of balance and coordination. However it can also affect fingers, hands, arms, legs, speech and even eye movements. Typical symptoms include difficulty walking or walking with a wide gait, frequent falls, difficulty judging distances or position, visual disturbances and tremor.

When it affects your skin it is dermatitis herpetiformis.   This is a chronic blistering skin condition, characterized by blisters filled with a watery fluid.

When gluten affects the small bowel, this is celiac disease.  

The Gluten Free Network had some interesting points on Celiac disease vs. gluten intolerance:

Celiac disease is an immune reaction, a severe sudden onset allergic reaction, to the protein called gluten. While celiac disease is initially an auto-immune disorder, it is also a disease of malabsorption, because essential nutrients are not absorbed.  If you imagine a continuum of gluten intolerance symptoms, celiac disease is usually at the most extreme end with immediate autoimmune reactions.

Gluten intolerance often has a slower onset than celiac disease, and may be hard to diagnose due to the broad range of symptoms and causes.  Undiagnosed for long periods of time, food intolerance have been found to contribute to diabetes, bowel cancer, anemia and osteoporosis.

A partial list from Celiac.com shows signs and symptoms of malabsorption, malnutrition, vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies associated with Celiac Disease to be:

Abdominal cramps, gas and bloating; Anemia; Diarrhea; Easy bruising; Epistaxis (nose bleeding); Fatigue or general weakness; Flatulence; Fluid retention; Foul-smelling or grayish stools that are often fatty or oily; Gastrointestinal symptoms; Gastrointestinal hemorrhage; Infertility; Iron deficiency anemia; lymphocytic gastritis; Muscle weakness; Muscle wasting; Nausea; Panic Attacks; Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage); Stunted growth in children; Vertigo; Vitamin B12 deficiency; Vitamin D deficiency; Vitamin K deficiency; Vomiting; Voracious appetite; Weight loss or Obesity.

Celiac.com also shares a list of disorders and conditions that may have a connection to gluten intolerance:

Addison’s Disease; Anemia; Arthritis; Ataxia, Nerve Disease, Neuropathy, Brain Damage; Attention Deficit Disorder; Autism; Bacterial Overgrowth; Casein / Cows Milk Intolerance; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Cognitive Impairment; Crohn’s Disease; Depression; Diabetes; Down Syndrome; Dyspepsia, Acid Reflux; Epilepsy; Fertility, Pregnancy, Miscarriage; Fibromyalgia; Flatulence (Gas); Gall Bladder Disease; Gastrointestinal Bleeding; Infertility, Impotency; Inflammatory Bowel Disease; Intestinal Permeability; Irritable Bowel Syndrome; Kidney Disease; Liver Disease; Migraine Headaches; Multiple Sclerosis; Obesity, Overweight & Celiac Disease; Osteoporosis, Osteomalacia, Bone Density; Psoriasis; Refractory Celiac Disease & Collagenous Sprue; Sarcoidosis; Schizophrenia / Mental Problems; Sepsis; Sjogrens Syndrome; Skin Problems and Thyroid & Pancreatic Disorders.

THIS IS NO JOKE PEOPLE!

I would like to be clear here………….this does NOT mean that everyone with depression or an autoimmune disease or any of the above mentioned symptoms/disorders/conditions has gluten sensitivity.

What it DOES mean is that if you have any chronic illness, or one or more of the above listed issues and do not seem to experience relief from what the doctor prescribed, perhaps you should consider the cause could be gluten sensitivity.

How can you correct this?  You need to treat the cause not just the symptoms.

Eliminate gluten-from their diet – not just “cut back” on it.

This information only scratches the surface of what is available. Please check WebMd, Celiac.org, Celiac.com and many other sites for more detailed info.  I hope that this has given you a little insight as to the seriousness of gluten intolerance.

Live and LOVE gluten free!

Posted in GREAT articles to check out

When You Can’t Get a Diagnosis AND 5 Frequently Missed Diseases

Medical Mystery: When You Can’t Get a Diagnosis
Something’s wrong with you—and no doctor can pinpoint what. Here’s how to handle this frustrating but surprisingly common situation
By Meryl Davids Landau

Her symptoms came on slowly but kept getting worse. Within a few months, Susan Warm’s fatigue had turned into debilitating exhaustion, her aches had graduated to serious pain, and her periodic sweats had developed into waterfalls that plastered her hair to her head. Warm, then 45, consulted several doctors, each of whom ran a variety of tests and declared she was suffering from nothing worse than the symptoms of menopause. “I thought I was going crazy, because I felt so bad for no explainable reason,” recalls Warm, a customer-marketing specialist in Pasadena, California.

Eight months into her ordeal, Warm persuaded an ER doctor to admit her to the hospital. There, one of the attending physicians touched her drenched arm and said, “I haven’t felt sweats like this since I last treated tuberculosis.” Sure enough, even though Warm didn’t have the classic TB cough, she tested positive for the disease. (The infection was in her bloodstream, not her lungs.) Once Warm took the appropriate antibiotics, she was cured—at last.

Americans believe that diagnosis is the cornerstone of medical care: You go to a doctor, who labels your problem and prescribes a treatment that makes you well. But what if the process gets stuck at the labeling stage? “We have a fantasy that as soon as we describe our symptoms, the doctor will know what is wrong with us. But the reality can be much more complicated,” says Evan Falchuk, president of Best Doctors (bestdoctors.com), a Boston-based company that helps corporate employees get second opinions from top physicians. You don’t expect the doctor to be stymied, particularly after extensive testing. But failures to find a diagnosis do occur—and while no one knows exactly how often, 10,000 patients contact Falchuk’s firm for help every year.

TV shows like House contribute to our misconceptions. Although Dr. Gregory House is portrayed as an expert in diagnostic medicine, such a medical specialty exists only in scriptwriters’ imaginations. In real life, analyzing what’s wrong with us falls to our primary care physician or to the specialists we consult. In most cases, by relying on our symptoms, medical history and test results, doctors are able to figure out our problems. But MDs typically look for common scenarios; people with rare diseases or unusual presentations of prevalent conditions (like Warm’s TB) can fall through the cracks, notes Marianne Genetti, executive director of In Need of Diagnosis (inod.org), a nonprofit in Orlando, Florida, that assists patients who have not been able to put a name to their complaints.

If that’s your situation, don’t give up: It’s essential that you persistently advocate for yourself. One way to do that is to actively help your doctors find the correct diagnosis.

Here, five steps you can take.

Step 1 Do Your Homework

The more information your doctor has, the better he’ll be able to treat you. In the days leading up to an important doctor visit, keep a pad of paper handy and jot down your symptoms as they occur so you can read the list to your practitioner. In addition, do a little digging on the Web, spending time on reputable medical sites such as MayoClinic.com and Health.gov to gain insight into how your symptoms might fit together. For instance, you may have gotten so accustomed to feeling thirsty all the time that you didn’t even think to bring it up during your last visit. But if an online check reveals that the symptoms you did plan to mention—fatigue and headaches—often go along with increased thirst in diabetics, then you’ll realize you should be telling the doctor how frequently you need a drink of water.

Or maybe you have a funny bump on your hand. By going online, you discover that one possible cause is a marine parasite. Now you remember that you swam in the ocean during your last Caribbean vacation, so you’ll be sure to tell the doctor.

Just don’t try to generate your own diagnoses, cautions Marie Savard, MD, an ABC News medical contributor and author of How to Save Your Own Life: The Eight Steps Only You Can Take to Manage and Control Your Health Care. Online information helps you pose smarter questions to your doctor, but he’s much better qualified to piece together the information.

At your doctor’s appointment, you’ll also need to list all the medications (and supplements) that you take or have recently taken. Unexplained symptoms frequently stem from a reaction to a drug, even one you’ve been on for a while, says Abbie Leibowitz, MD, chief medical officer of Health Advocate (healthadvocate.com), a firm in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, that helps patients navigate the health care waters.

But the best information you can give a physician is your personal and family medical histories. “Up to 80 percent of a doctor’s determination comes from your history, not from tests done the day you’re in the office,” Savard says. Be ready to describe all the major conditions you have ever had, even if they are long in the past or do not seem associated with your current symptoms. Bring to your appointment important test results from any related prior illnesses.

And make sure to tell your physician about conditions your relatives have suffered from. Rare diseases often go undiagnosed, but if your doctor knows that one runs in your family, he will be much more likely to consider it a possibility.

Step 2 Prod Your Doctor

When symptoms don’t add up to a ready diagnosis, physicians sometimes suggest that an ailment is psychological or stress related. But don’t let your doctor dismiss your complaints so quickly, says Pamela Hops, MD, a family physician at New York City’s Continuum Center for Health and Healing. “Sometimes psychological issues do present themselves physically, but the doctor shouldn’t assume that’s the case, especially if you feel in your gut that something else is wrong,” she says. Some symptoms, says Hops, can indicate a serious condition and always call for additional testing: prolonged fever, unexplained weight loss and night sweats that aren’t associated with menopause. Night sweats, for example, can indicate an infection or a possible cancer or may be a side effect of certain diabetes drugs.

If your doctor is baffled, suggest he consider conditions that are known for being overlooked. (See 5 Diseases Doctors Often Miss below) Take, for instance, Lyme disease, which sometimes surfaces in the form of vague and ordinary symptoms. Stephanie Smith, 36, an asset manager from Newport Beach, California, suffered for a decade from joint pain, fatigue, insomnia and heart palpitations before she was diagnosed with the disease, which is primarily a problem in the northeastern U.S., not in her home state. When one doctor suggested her troubles were due to stress, Smith (who asked that her real last name not be used) quit her high-pressurejob,but she continued to deteriorate. “I began to think my symptoms were normal age-related issues, and eventually I stopped trying to get a diagnosis,” Smith says. Then one day she described her condition to her aunt, who’d once had Lyme disease and recognized the symptoms. After a positive test, Smith started using the antibiotics and immune-boosting supplements that returned her to health.

Step 3 Take a Break

If your doctor has run important tests and ruled out serious conditions but still hasn’t determined what’s wrong with you, it may be time to put your quest for a diagnosis on hold. “You don’t want to push your doctor into giving you drugs or other treatments that may not be appropriate, because that can lead to other complications,” Savard says. She suggests waiting for three months, or whatever time frame you and your physician agree on, to see if your body can heal itself.

During this hiatus, you might take a more holistic approach to healing by adopting a healthier lifestyle: Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, reduce your stress levels and improve your diet—and see if these measures are enough to cure what ails you.

Changing your diet can be tough, but in some cases the results are dramatic. For years, Kristen Johnson, 51, who lives in San Diego, suffered from migraines, digestive problems, depression, aches and pains. Then she decided to seek out an MD with a holistic bent (find doctors with this orientation through the Institute for Functional Medicine, functionalmedicine.org). The physician thought she might be severely sensitive to certain foods, especially wheat, corn, soybeans and sugar. Eager to try anything that could help, Johnson made over her pantry. “I swooped into my kitchen, tossed out all the processed foods and stocked up on vegetables, fish, poultry, fruits and yogurt,” Johnson recalls. After a couple of weeks, she found relief, and within a few months, she felt truly healthy. “I still get the occasional migraine, but it’s always after I accidentally eat something hidden in restaurant food,” explains Johnson.

Step 4 Call in the Experts

If you’ve followed the advice above and haven’t made progress, it’s time to seek out a topflight physician in a specialty related to your concerns (for instance, a neurologist if you have unexplained tremors). “Always keep your regular doctor in the loop, because if you still don’t have answers after seeing the expert, you’ll want to return to your doctor to discuss other options,” says Leibowitz of Health Advocate.

The best specialists can be found at large hospitals or, better yet, at teaching hospitals affiliated with medical schools—even if these are a long drive away. It’s especially important to seek this top level of expertise once you’ve seen and stumped other doctors, since that means you’re more likely to have a rare condition, says William A. Gahl, MD, PhD, director of the NIH Undiagnosed Diseases Program.

“Doctors at a university center usually have the most up-to-date information on rare diseases, and they have an array of specialists that can address them,” he says. Working through your physician, you can also get second opinions without an in-person examination from such top-rated institutions as the Cleveland Clinic (clevelandclinic.org; click on My Consult), Johns Hopkins Medicine (hopkinsmedicine.org/second_opinion) and Partners Online Specialty Consultations (econsults.partners.org), which connects to Harvard-affiliated doctors. The fees might be hefty but could be worth the expense.

Step 5 Be Prepared for a Diagnosis to be Wrong

Sometimes the problem isn’t that you’re unable to get a diagnosis but that you’ve received an inaccurate one. Mistakes are not uncommon: Autopsies performed on patients in one university hospital found that up to 32 percent of them had been given serious misdiagnoses. “If your treatment isn’t making you feel better, don’t immediately look for other therapies. Your first move should be to confirm that your doctor got the diagnosis right in the first place,” says Falchuk of Best Doctors. That typically involves sending all your records to an expert or, in the case of cancer, asking that a different pathologist examine your tumor sample. One of Falchuk’s clients, who was being treated for cervical cancer, discovered in this way that she actually had colon cancer that had spread to her cervix. Because cancer treatment is specialized, she had been getting the wrong drug. “It’s important to keep asking questions to ensure your diagnosis is right,” Falchuk says. “The worst that can happen is that your doctor may feel annoyed.”

And what’s the best that can happen? Your questioning may well save your life.

Source: http://www.more.com March 2012 Issue

5 Diseases Doctors Often Miss
Being treated for a condition that’s hasn’t improved? Make sure your doctor considers the following diseases.
by Meryl Davids Landau

These conditions often go undiagnosed because their symptoms—such as exhaustion, fever, weight gain and joint pain—are commonplace and vague. If your doctor is unclear about what ails you, be sure he has checked you for:

Lyme disease, a systemic bacterial infection transmitted by a tick bite.

Celiac disease, in which gluten (a protein in wheat, barley and rye) harms the intestines during digestion and leads to nutritional deficiencies.

Lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and damage in many organs in the body.

Hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce a sufficient quantity of a critical hormone.

Narcolepsy, a nervous system disorder in which the brain makes too little of a crucial protein, leading the sufferer to suddenly fall asleep in the daytime.

Source: http://www.More.com February 2012 Issue

Posted in The Basics

What are Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance?

This list is from dummies.com and I thought it was a pretty decent representation of some of the symptoms that could possibly occur.  If you find you have quite a few on this list (like I did) perhaps you should talk to your doctor!

There are 200-300 symptoms of gluten intolerance, so this is just a few of them:

Gastrointestinal symptoms: These are some of the “classic” — although not the most common — symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain and distension
  • Acid reflux
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas and flatulence
  • Greasy, foul-smelling, floating stools
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss or weight gain

Nongastrointestinal symptoms: Interestingly, although gluten sensitivity and celiac disease affect the gut, most people’s symptoms are not gastrointestinal in nature.

  • Fatigue and weakness (due to iron-deficiency anemia)
  • Vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies
  • Headaches (including migraines)
  • Joint/bone pain
  • Depression, irritability, listlessness, and mood disorders
  • “Fuzzy brain” or an inability to concentrate
  • Infertility
  • Abnormal menstrual cycles
  • Dental enamel deficiencies and irregularities
  • Seizures
  • Clumsiness (ataxia)
  • Nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy)
  • Respiratory problems
  • Canker sores (apthus ulcers)
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Eczema/psoriasis
  • Rosacea (a skin disorder)
  • Acne
  • Hashimoto’s disease, Sjögren’s syndrome, lupus erythematosus, and other autoimmune disorders
  • Early onset osteoporosis
  • Hair loss (alopecia)
  • Bruising easily
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Muscle cramping
  • Nosebleeds
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Night blindness