Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance, Continued



Some of the other symptoms that improved or even cleared up for us after going gluten free are detailed below.

Vision Changes

As one of our symptoms of gluten intolerance my husband and I both experienced vision changes. In his case, he reached a point where he went to a neurologist, as his left eye was focusing at changing levels from day to day. It gave him headaches and made it hard to drive. This completely resolved after a few months on the gluten free diet, so it was certainly caused by gluten intolerance.

In my case, I reached a point where I could not read labels on prescription bottles or food packages with my glasses. I had to get bifocals. I know that this is considered a normal part of aging. The odd thing is that after about 1 1/2 years on the gluten free diet, I can now read labels again without any glasses at all. My eyes can focus on close objects now without the bifocals just as they did 10 years ago. I am still nearsighted though, and need glasses for distance vision. That part did not improve. Still, I consider that to be evidence of one of many symptoms of gluten intolerance that improved on the diet.



Thyroid, Gallbladder, and Endometriosis

It is common for people with celiac disease and symptoms of gluten intolerance to have thyroid problems. While an autoimmune problem can cause antibodies to attack the thyroid, many others simply have low thyroid function. This could be related to many things, including nutritional deficiencies, lack of enzymes, or inability to convert cholesterol to hormones.

The risk of developing an autoimmune thyroid disease is 3x that of the general population for those with celiac disease. It is the second most prevalent autoimmune disease associated with celiac disease.

In my case I have had low thyroid for a long time. I also had gallbladder problems where there were no stones, but the gallbladder had to be removed because it was not emptying. Both my parents and my sister also had to have their gallbladders removed. My brother was having trouble with his as well, but was unable to have it removed because of another medical issue. For some reason, celiac disease appears to interfere with the production of the hormone that causes the gallbladder to contract and expel bile. I've read many accounts of this among other celiacs. Current research is pointing to wheat as a contributing factor in endometriosis. It is fairly common among celiacs to have endometriosis. It makes sense if gluten is keeping the immune system busy, and causing it not to be as effective as it should, that it would allow enodmetriosis to flourish. The flow that backs up during severe cramps is normally cleared away by the immune system. The immune system not functioning properly would allow it to accumulate and cause the problems of endometriosis.

There has been some research that wheat worsens endometriosis. There is a diet for endometriosis that advocates removing wheat from the diet, along with several other foods that seem to worsen the symptoms.

I have an article listed on the next page that also gives some information on gluten and endometriosis under the infertility section.


Stomach and Intestinal Symptoms

My husband used to live on Rolaids. He always had an acid stomach, and frequently woke up with esophogeal reflux. This has completely resolved on the gluten free diet.

I used to get hiccups when I ate bread. It sounds funny, but after they wouldn't go away for several hours, it really wasn't funny. It didn't happen every time of course, but usually two or three times a week. They could last for up to four hours! I sometimes had acid reflux too, but not regularly like my husband.

Not everyone will react as quicky to gluten as I do. You might have symptoms that show up the next day, or even 3 days later. If you can't pinpoint it, keep a food journal for a few weeks and see if there are repeat instances. These kinds of gluten intolerance symptoms have resolved for us on the diet. I still get hiccups, maybe twice a year. And they last for 10-15 minutes.

Weight Gain and Weight Loss

While the standard description of celiac disease discusses weight loss, many people with gluten intolerance symptoms and even celiac disease actually gain weight. It has been shown that about 1/3 are overweight, and many are actually obese. This makes it hard to get a doctor to listen about symptoms of gluten intolerance because most of them still think in terms of the textbook description they learned in medical school.

It is usually at the point where they are very ill, have no villi left, and their bodies are beginning to fail that people have dramatic weight loss and become so weak that they are bedridden. Earlier in the process, many are actually overweight. So this can be one of the gluten intolerance symptoms as well, although you won't see it mentioned much.

I am one of the overweight ones. I've never been able to lose more than 7 or 8 pounds on any diet, no matter how strict I was, and even with exercise.

My husband, my mother in law, and I all went on a diet one time. It was called the metabolism diet. It required 20 minutes of excercise twice a day.

I was faithful to the diet, did the excercise, and lost 2 pounds. My husband lost 12. My 60 year old mother in law lost 10, and she and my husband did not even do the exercises. This was in 3 months on the diet. I did lose 8 pounds on the Atkins diet...probably because I wasn't having the wheat. But it came off in the first two weeks, I never lost any more even after months on the diet, and after going off it came back on within 5 days.

So if you are not thin, haven't had dramatic weight loss, or can't lose weight that does not mean you aren't showing symptoms of gluten intolerance. You are likely to be earlier in the process, and not have complete villi destruction if you have celiac disease.

Gluten disrupts so many body functions, and when you add in the vitamin and mineral deficiencies, it is quite possible that your body thinks you are starving, and goes into hibernation mode. That lowers the metabolism, and makes you gain weight.

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