What is Gluten Intolerance and What Symptoms Can it Cause?
What is gluten intolerance? Can it actually cause so many unusual symptoms? There are some less well known symtpoms that can in our experience resolve on a gluten free diet. Even those with celiac disease may not be aware of the relationship between gluten intolerance symptoms and some of these manifestations.
Gait Ataxia and Clumsiness
Along with brain fog while eating gluten, I used to manage to catch my outer arm and scrape it painfully, or bump it on the edges of doorways, or perform other clumsy maneuvers that my kids found vastly entertaining. I think that this was related to an alteration of spacial perception from the gluten and the lack of vitamin B12. It is quite rare for me to do this now, unless I accidentally get "glutened". This resolved after a few months on the diet.
My father had gait ataxia, where he would weave side to side when he walked, almost like a drunken stagger. Doctors thought at one time that he had a narrowing of the vertebrae in the neck, and were going to do surgery for it.
It was a problem with balance and muscle control. He spent the last two years of his life in a wheel chair. I now believe that his ataxia may have been due to gluten intolerance.
Gluten ataxia may be the true cause for many labeled with idiopathic ataxia. Since it is not a gastrointestinal symptom doctors may overlook it. The damage is progressive, and if it continues for many years, may become irreversible. For anyone with ataxia, gluten ataxia should be ruled out as early as possible, while a gluten free diet may still be able to reverse the damage.
Immune System Problems, and Catching One Flu After Another
One thing that is rarely mentioned in regard to these intolerance symptoms and celiac disease is that for many of us, the immune system works very poorly.
Our family caught pretty much every virus that was going around. The elder daughter and my husband had pneumonia at the same time. Usually we all got bronchitis several times every winter. It seemed like we were ALWAYS sick! No matter what I did, the girls brought home every virus at school. It usually took twice as long for us to get over a virus as other people we knew. I often felt like a failure as a mother because we were always sick!
Now I understand that the gluten causes inflammation in the small intestine. It disrupts the tissue where the majority of the immune complexes are produced. Over 70% of the immune system cells that are supposed to protect you from these invaders are made in the gut! So if you have an inflamed gut wall, that not only is unable to absorb nutrition, but is also hindered from producing the immune system's first line of defense, then you really are susceptible to many more invading organisms.
So not only does the immune system get distracted from it's job defending against invaders, the damage actually causes a failure to produce the necessary immune complexes to protect us. The body's gluten intolerance reaction causes inflammation in all parts of the body. The immune system's attack on gluten even affects purkinje cells in the cerebellum of the brain, which are similar to gluten receptors. It has even been implicated in some forms of epilepsy.
What is Gluten intolerance and how can it lead to so many body systems being disrupted or disabled? Perhaps it is the missing factor in the underlying cause of your health issues.
Between the direct attack on cells, even in the brain, and the inflammation of sinuses, joints, muscles, intestine, and skin tissues, it can cause total havoc. No wonder it feels so bad!
We have had less illnesses in the past 6 months than ever before. My husband's sick leave account has begun to rise as of September, which was 2 months shy of our being gluten and casein free for 2 years. I also have been bypassing illnesses others around me are having. So we feel we are beginning to have a better immune system function. Since it is peak flu season, something must be changing.
I have put a lot of personal information in this section, which i is not normal for me as I am usually a private person. I do this in the hope it will help my readers to connect the dots in their own symptoms and life. If it helps even one person to recognize if they have gluten intolerance it will have been worth it.
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