Friday, September 15, 2006

Celiac Symptoms or Something Else?

For any gluten free and celiac persons that have experienced significant symptomatic reactions to gluten exposure, you probably have your own stories of health incidents that you perhaps can not fully attribute to either Celiac Symptoms or Something Else.

This happens to be the case with me right now. Last night I awoke at about 5am with my stomach feeling bad. First I had dull pains in my abdomen, and then it escalated quite a bit. One minute I am thinking to myself how this upset feeling will pass, and a few minutes later I am having sharper and more widespread abdominal pain coupled with a general feeling of nausea. Now, I am lucky in that I rarely ever get this type of feeling to the point I feel like actually throwing up - in fact the last time such an incident came to fruition was over 10 years ago (pre-CD period). But, what I get in return for this lack of tossing seems to be an oversensitive vaso vagal response system that makes me experience a sequence of 1) tingling all over and ears ringing, 2) blood pressure drop, 3) approaching or exceeding the passing out threshold, and finally 4) I will be utterly dripping in a cold sweat.

Yep, that was the sequence last night. I attempted to stand up and get something to drink when my stomach pain was increasing. Bad move. Precipitous BP drop. I quickly return to lying position with the edge of unconsciousness quickly taking hold of me -- and, I absolutely HATE this feeling of self control. There is this bizarre balance between the nunbing feeling of nearly being completely out, and the pain in my abdomen and associated feeling of nausea. This time, I felt luck when after lying there right on the edge of this painful delirium, the cold sweating broke and my consciousness had returned with clarity.

Today I have a fair amount of residual intestinal and stomach discomfort, a bit of a fever, and the more the day wears on I feel increasing muscle and joint pain.

As I contemplate writing this gluten free blog entry in the midst of all this, I find myself stuck pondering a question many a gluten free and celiac disease sufferer has in these circumstances. Simple, is what I experienced Celiac Symptoms or Something Else? I would swear that most everything I ate yesterday should have been gluten free. But, I just do not know. And, I see many others (on various celiac / gluten-free forums) wondering the same thing after developing such symptoms seemingly out of the blue.

I do not want to simply blame the presence of gluten in some food I consumed for the cause of my current malady, since it could just be a stomach bug or something else. It was not food poisoning, since my wife consumed all the same basic things I did without issue (she is not GF/CD). I have not been anywhere around sick people any time recently either.

So, that is one absolutely sucky thing about this gluten free lifestyle and celiac disease. Sometimes you just do not know where to point the finger of blame -- is it contaminated food, is it a virus, is it an ulcer, or what? At least the non-CD person can quickly eliminate the gluten issue from the possibilities. And, that is what I can not do easily. And, I can not easily confirm, or not, that gluten was responsible for my symptoms, so I do not know if there is something tainted that I consumed and should avoid. I do not want to avoid foods just for "suspicion" of guilt, as I would soon end up with nothing to eat. I will just have to deal with it, like we all must, and hope not to experience this hell again any time soon! And, I can just hope for a speedy return to feeling normal and healthy.


Anonymous said...

Hey Mike,

Sorry to hear you had a rough night! Sounds kind of scary. Sometimes it's hard to tell where to "place the blame" in something like that. Often times we never do know. Could it be gluten - sure. Could there be other medical issues at play - sure. Could it be just bug of some sort - sure. Even the docs may not an answer as to why.

Did you see a doc about this incident?

Anyway...I'm afraid I'm not much help. Hope you feel better soon though!

Take care.


Mike Eberhart said...


Thanks for the kind words.
I did not see a doctor about this - I am just hoping all returns to normal within another day or two.

I felt better so long as I didn't eat too much during the day. As soon as I increased my food consumption when I started feeling better mid afternoon today, some of the stomach pain returned. At this point, I am just hopeful my sleep is not disturbed by those rather unwelcome and feeling of last night.

Gluten or not, I have no idea where roots of the issue lie. If all passes fine in a couple days, I will probably write it off as some stomach bug.

Mike Eberhart said...

Today I feel better overall.
The muscle pain is gone, the abdominal pain is greatly reduced, and the last in the series of symptoms is now here: a red rash around my neck and my underarm region. It does not hurt or itch per se, but it makes my skin sort of sensitized to things like shaving by my neck under my jaw region.

So, who knows. It's played out most of the way, and I still do not know if it is a glutenization issue or just some whacky 24 hour "bug.

Lynn Barry said...

It sounds scary. I am glad to read that you are better.
I have had so many weird symptoms (the stomach problems and tingling, rashes, headaches, itchiness) and even though I went through all kinds of tests I truly did discover my food intolerances on my own by trial and error. I quit gluten and when I was later tested for celiacs it was not found but I was also told I had been gluten-free for the most part so it would not show. Any way my whole point (and I do have one) is that other foods were also effecting me. Now that I avoid these other foods I seem to be leveling out and just plain feeling good.
All my best,
Lynn Barry