After several years of struggling to ascertain what was "wrong" with me I was able, with the help of two amazing doctors (my General and my GI) I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Believe you me, this is exciting news! I will be making some changes in my life and in the life of our family but this is very good news.
What is Celiac Disease?
The Mayo Clinic answers that with the following:
Celiac (SEE-lee-ak) disease is a digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten, which is primarily found in bread, pasta, cookies, pizza crust and many other foods containing wheat, barley or rye. People with celiac disease who eat foods containing gluten experience an immune reaction in their small intestines, causing damage to the inner surface of the small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients.
Celiac disease can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea. Eventually, the decreased absorption of nutrients (malabsorption) that occurs with celiac disease can cause vitamin deficiencies that deprive your brain, peripheral nervous system, bones, liver and other organs of vital nourishment.
No treatment can cure celiac disease. However, you can effectively manage celiac disease by changing your diet.
Having Celiac Disease is not the same as having a wheat allergy (which acts like all allergies causing itchiness, breathing problems and sometimes even anaphylactic shock). And its not just about wheat! The problem is a protein called "Gluten" which can be found in wheat, rye and barley. And what it practically does is in people who have Celiac Disease it causes damage the small intestines and that causes problems (go figure, right?).
The bit that most people seem to get confused on is what that means! Sure, it means gastrointestinal "issues" as the small intestine is atrophying, but it also involves the immune system, when gluten enters the body the immune system starts attacking it and the body! So basically, its an autoimmune disease too!
Just -some- of the possible symptoms a person with Celiac Disease could suffer are:
-inability to concentrate
-irritable bowel syndrome
-acid reflux (GERD)
(whew) And some people don't have any symptoms at all! Its defined not by what is evidenced outwardly but by what is happening inside the body as a response to gluten, by damage to the intestinal villi to be specific.
So what does treatment look like?
Simply not eating gluten! And how great is that?! Not surgery, not pills. Cut out breads and whatnot: Easy-peasy.
.......well, okay, not so easy... turns out that gluten is is E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. It gets used in a LOT of stuff! Easy to see is anything made with wheat flour (bread, bagels, cookies, flour tortillas, pizza, pasta, etc), hard to see is the not so obvious stuff that has it as an ingredient (soy sauce, some packaged meats, chicken broth, cream of mushroom soup, and the list goes on for a very long time).
<Insert sad face here.>
After I got over the pity-party right about here I realized what a gift it was to be diagnosed with a disease that can be completely controlled by what I eat! So, making some changes around here in the Bonner Household. Keep checking in with us to see how we are doing!
1 Mayo Clinic Website
2 The Gluten-Free Bible