I was reading some interesting material about autoimmune disease I wanted to pass along. If you’ve known you’re gluten intolerant for a while, then you probably already know you have an autoimmune system disease. If you are new to the celiac world, then I guess your just learning all the details of the disease.
An autoimmune disease, in layperson’s terms (which is me), is one where your body pretty much attacks itself. It thinks something, like the gliadin protein, is attacking you and so it tries to put up a defense. In the process, the intestines get damaged and cause a lot of awful symptoms.
What’s interesting to learn is that celiac disease can look like a lot of other autoimmune diseases. So there are plenty of people walking around believing they have the wrong disease. I just personally ran into a situation like that recently. A woman I know has Lupus which is also an autoimmune disease. At least she thought she had Lupus.
This woman would have good days and bad days. Sometimes her joints were so sore she could barely walk. She was frequently exhausted and complained of headaches. Then she’d get a strange rash that would come and go. The doctor told her she had Lupus and there wasn’t much he could do for her.
I was talking to her one day and we were comparing illnesses (Okay, go ahead and say it – it’s not fun conversation). But I was telling her about my symptoms before I was diagnosed and guess what? They were almost like hers except I also got severe cases of diarrhea. Well, she went back to her doctor and made him do the tests that indicate whether a person is gluten intolerant. I’m sure you guessed the ending to this story by now. She didn’t have Lupus – she has Celiac disease!
The point of telling you this story is the research indicates that there are probably a lot of misdiagnosed people in the country. Autoimmune diseases are tricky things. There’s no one set of symptoms. Unfortunately, the general practitioner doctors still aren’t up to speed on celiac disease. Many times you have to force the issue.
Other autoimmune diseases that can create celiac-like disease include multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, and even arthritis. With arthritis the joints get inflamed which is the same symptom of the woman who thought she had Lupus but really had celiac disease. I think you get the idea by now.
If you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease (and especially if the symptoms seem to come and go), I highly recommend you talk to your doctor about celiac disease. What do you have to lose? A lot….you can lose your headaches, your joint inflammation, your irritable bowel, your indigestion and a lot more!