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Matthew's Story


I began having symptoms of celiac disease around 10 years ago, in the year 2000. I was in college and had no knowledge of what celiac disease or its potential dangers were. I did nothing about it except go to my primary care physician when I had esophageal reflux symptoms.

For years, I had bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, headaches, borborygmus (stomach growling) and gas, but had no idea what I could do about it. I was diagnosed with GERD and given Omeprazole 20 mg to mask the heartburn.

It wasn't until 2008 that I began to eliminate foods from my diet. I remember thinking I had a lactose intolerance (as my maternal grandmother did), but quickly realized after eating a turkey sandwich on wheat bread, that lactose wasn't the culprit. I immediately went off a gluten containing diet and began to feel much better.

After a year or so of feeling better (and hours of research), I decided to go to my primary care physician and have him check for celiac disease. He failed to mention that I needed to be on a gluten-containing diet and did not check for the DQ2 or DQ8 genes. The test came back unlikely for celiac disease. I knew I couldn't digest gluten, so I avoided it for the most part, but gave in now and then to some cravings because, in my mind, I wasn't going to be damaging the villi of the small bowel.

In 2010, I got interested in the medical field and recently graduated an MA program in California. I will be going on to a physician assistant program and have been working under a gastroenterology group. As I learned more and more about the disease, I began to wonder if my previous diagnosis was false. I had my GI doctor perform an upper endoscopy, which showed much more than I would have imagined. Not only did it find intraepithelial lymphocytes throughout my duodenum, but it found over 50 eosinophils per HPF in my mid and distal esophagus. I was diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis and it was thought I may have celiac. My doctor ordered a celiac panel plus genetics test to see if I had celiac disease. The genetics came back positive and likely while the IgA came back border line.

With the findings of the EGD, the gluten intolerance and the genetic positive gene (DQ8), my doctor diagnosed me recently with celiac disease, as well as the eosinophilic esophagitis. I have been off gluten for the past 3 weeks again, and have been feeling great for about a week. I am so thankful to my physician for taking the time to biopsy multiple portions of my esophagus, stomach and duodenum. As of now, gluten has been the main culprit to my problems (other than chocolate, which is causing some of the eosinophilic esophagitis).

Although it is difficult realizing I won't be able to eat what so many others enjoy, I am overjoyed to be able to put years of gastrointestinal issues to rest. I no longer have to worry about malnutrition and the overwhelmingly large chance of developing T-Cell lymphoma in the future.

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