Living with Celiac Disease and IBS

Celiac is a “serious genetic autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage of the small intestine”. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barley, and rye. There are more than 200,000 cases per year. It cannot be cured, but there is some treatment that can help. One would need a medical diagnosis in order to find out if they have it or not. It is found by doing lots of lab tests and or imaging of the stomach, and intestine’s. It’s a chronic disease that can last for years or a lifetime. It usually affects those ages three to sixty and older, only rarely does it affect those younger than three. Approximately 1 in 100 people world wide have celiac. Those numbers than equate out to 2.5 million Americans that go undiagnosed, which means that they are at risk for long term health complications.

What happens with people with celiac, the digestion of gluten creates an inflammation that damages the small intestine’s lining. Meaning that the villi, small finger-like projections that line the small intestines, will be damaged and can’t absorb the nutrients from foods that it should be. It’s hereditary, and can only be controlled with a strict gluten free diet. In fact, many whole start a strict gluten free diet see relief in symptoms withing weeks. However, the healing of the intestines may take years. Celiac, if not treated properly, can lead to anemia, osteoporosis, infertility, higher chance of miscarriage, lactose intolerance, gallbladder malfunctions, vitamin and mineral deficiency, central and peripheral nervous system damage, and pancreatic problems. The main symptoms are diarrhea, bloating, gas, fatigue, low blood count (anemia), and osteoporosis.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is “an intestinal disorder causing pain in the belly, gas, diarrhea, and constipation”. It affects more than 200,000 people per year, and needs a medical diagnosis. There is not cure for it, but there are some medications that can help treat it a bit. Many lab tests and imaging tests are often done to make sure that it is in fact the case, and it is a chronic disorder that can last for years or a lifetime. IBS, unlike celiac, affects the large intestine. It causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. While it cannot be cured, it can be controlled better with managing and changing ones diet, lifestyle, and stress.

Now, as far a as my story goes, I started out thinking that it was a stomach bug that had been going around my work place. But when further testing was done (and many poop samples later (I know, probably TMI, but oh well lol)), it was found out that IBS was the case. From there, my doctor sent me to a GI doctor to take a further look into matters. It was then that my GI decided to give me an upper endoscopy (basically, they put me to sleep and shoved a scope down my throat to look around my insides). The findings of this came back to show that I, in fact, did have IBS and celiac. But it also showed that I was lactose intolerant.

So what do I do now a days? Well I really hadn’t been doing anything different. I just simply had been eating whatever I wanted to, and just dealing with the consequences. But after doing the research for this post, I realized just how dangerous this is. So, as of yesterday, I have gone gluten free again. I have done it once before, and I made it about five or six months. Then I lost it again, and just haven’t been able to get back into the swing of things. But I am hopeful that this time I can make it stick. I’ve got my wonderful boyfriend being a food Nazi for me, and my parents and sister are more aware of it now and are all helping me. Let’s see how well this goes. I’ll come back again in a few weeks to give you an update!

(All of the facts were found from Mayo Clinic, and The Celiac Disease Foundation)

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