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Christina's Story

 
9/7/2011

I am fortunate to have the background of a bachelor's and soon-to-be master's degree in food and nutrition. This knowledge helped me get diagnosed.

The summer before my senior year of college, I ended up having mono, which caused me to be admitted to the hospital with severe dehydration and high liver enzymes. About 2-3 weeks after having reoccurring symptoms, I was diagnosed with celiac disease.

The doctor told me that high liver enzymes is a factor that could trigger the onset of celiac disease. I was having symptoms of severe abdominal cramping along with chronic diarrhea up to a few hours after consumption. I had caught on that certain carbohydrates, such as bagels, whole wheat bread and pasta, might be the cause of my constant trips to the bathroom. So, I visited a gastroenterologist, who then performed an upper endoscopy confirming the blunted villi on the mucosal lining of my small intestine.

In addition to having celiac, I have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes since 2000. My doctor told me that recent studies have shown a link between having type 1 diabetes and developing celiac disease as well.

For about a year, I had symptoms of lactose intolerance that included bloating, flatulence, cramping and some diarrhea. I visited the gastroenterologist again, and he performed a colonoscopy and took some biopsies of my intestine. I was diagnosed with possible microscopic collagenous colitis, which is an illness that can arise from having celiac disease, according to my doctor. These symptoms also can be associated with IBS.

As I said, I was lucky to have a background in food and nutrition, because I knew what symptoms to watch for. I also feel lucky because all of my three siblings were tested after I was diagnosed. My oldest sister ended up being diagnosed with celiac disease, and I think she had had it about 2 years prior. In some ways, I feel like I have saved her from becoming malnourished or sick because she was not on a gluten-free diet.

I am happy to say that my oldest sister and I have been gluten-free for almost 3 years now. We couldn't feel any better! It truly does change your health and lifestyle.

I feel that it is important to be honest with your doctors and make sure you write down all of your questions and thoughts you have for them. Any individual who is questioning whether they have celiac disease might want to keep a food journal. This way, when you have symptoms, you can go back to the day before to see what you were consuming. You may be able to pinpoint certain food items that are causing your discomfort. Having a food journal is also something concrete that you can take to your doctor’s appointment to illustrate what is going on. I hope this helps!

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