March 2, 2009


Owen’s Story

Owen started having health issues when his mother Melanie put him on solid foods. He would react with rashes, diarrhea, passing undigested food, spitting up, screaming, and waking up at night, among other things. Owen’s family lived in Germany and saw  doctors there who tested for a number of things, but a test for celiac disease didn’t get done. The tests all came back negative.

Next, Owen saw a doctor who practices alternative medicine and was tested for allergies. Those tests indicated that he didn’t tolerate wheat, oatmeal, and some other grains. Melanie tried giving him spelt, but the results were bad. At that point Melanie put him on a gluten-free diet to see how he would do. About his response Melanie said,

“Within a couple of days on the diet, he was improving and much happier. A couple of weeks later, he was rash-free and sleeping through the night most of the days.”

Owen was gluten free for about six months, then was put back on a diet containing gluten. They flew to the U.S. where Owen saw a G.I. specialist. The doctor did an endoscopy and told them that Owen did not have celiac disease. His answer was that Owen had toddler diarrhea. When asked why Owen did better on a gluten-free diet, the doctor said, “It’s the fiber in the gluten-free foods.” Back in Germany, Owen resumed a gluten-free diet and improved once again.

Life is still challenging for Owen and his family, though. Melanie says,

“We are still in search of a diagnosis as he still has reactions to this day. He will flush, have swollen hands, lips and a swollen face, go into screaming fits and complain of stomach/head and bone/muscle pains. He will always run a low grade fever and have diarrhea a day after a big reaction. Once we see a reaction coming on we give him Benadryl and usually within about 20 minutes he is improving. And we also have noticed that he is digesting his foods a lot better while taking Zyrtec on a daily basis. Now that we are back in the states we are starting our next round of seeing different specialists to figure out what is going on.”

Owen is now almost four years old. He is the only one in the family who eats completely gluten-free, but everyone eats gluten-free dinners since that makes things easier.

Melanie would like to encourage others through their story and the small steps they took in the right direction. She also wants to let others know that they make mistakes and don’t always pay close enough attention, and Owen gets sick because of it. However, it does get easier with time and can soon become second nature.

Melanie and her other son Jonathan also suffer from allergies. You can read more about them on Melanie’s blog Allergy Family.

Don’t forget to write to share your gluten-free story with me.



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