April 25, 2010
In the case of celiac disease, the body attacks the lining of the small intestine. This reaction is triggered by gluten. Celiac disease is the only autoimmune disease where the trigger is known. For that reason, if you had to choose one autoimmune disease to have, celiac disease would be the one. The disease is treated by removing the trigger and therefore eliminating the faulty immune response. Doctors would love to know what triggers other autoimmune diseases.
Other Autoimmune Diseases
Unfortunately, if you have one autoimmune disease, you are more likely to develop another. According to the University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Fact Sheet, people diagnosed with celiac disease at the following ages have a chance of developing another autoimmune disease at the percent given:
- 4 –12 yrs. 16.7%
- 12 – 20 yrs. 27%
- over 20 yrs. 34%
- Addison’s Disease – adrenal gland
- Autoimmune Chronic Active Hepatitis – liver
- Type I Diabetes – pancreas
- Myasthenia Gravis – nerve impulses & muscle function
- Pernicious Anemia –lining of the stomach
- Raynaud’s Phenomenon – blood vessels
- Scleroderma –skin, GI tract, muscles, lungs, or kidneys
- Sjogren’s Syndrome – mucus-secreting glands
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus – many organs
- Grave’s Disease – overactive thyroid
- Hashimoto’s Disease – underactive thyroid
In the fall of 2000 I was diagnosed with celiac disease. I was grateful when we finally found an answer to my problems, and although the gluten-free diet was challenging, I was feeling better. As months went by, I regained strength and weight, and I grew more comfortable with the diet. After about a year life was pretty much back to normal. Well, gluten-free normal. Health wise, I was feeling good.
In 2006 I developed Hashimoto’s disease. In a few months time I gained 10 pounds, became depressed, fatigued, and drained. I began taking thyroid hormone replacement medication and felt much better after a month. Much better compared to really bad, but not good. I tried a different brand of medication, then another. I changed dosages and had my thyroid levels tested multiple times.
The bottom line is that I have never felt back to normal. I have continued to struggle with weight gain, depression and fatigue. It’s been particularly bad the past couple of months since I made a medicine change again (due to unavailability of natural thyroid medicines) and ended up taking too much medicine. I have since cut back and am waiting for things to normalize.
Of course, I realize that other factors play a part, including my age, but if given a choice between celiac disease or Hashimoto’s disease, I would choose celiac hands down. Sure, popping a pill every morning is much easier than following a gluten-free diet, but the results don’t compare. The gluten-free diet essentially fixes the problem, medicine just treats it.
But I don’t have that choice, so I do the best I can, and I’m well aware that there are many other autoimmune disease which are worse than Hashimoto’s. I hope and pray that I won’t develop those.
How About You?
Do you have any autoimmune diseases? Which ones?
Labels: celiac disease
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and Lupus several years before discovering my gluten sensitivity. For me, following a gluten free diet significantly reduces the symptoms of the UC and Lupus and helps me keep both in remission.
Your symptoms must really be bad if you'd choose celiac over Hashimoto's. So weird that both those diseases have such varied symptoms in different people.
These disorders definitely follow each other closely!
I really wish the health professionals would include some of this information along with the treatment and meds. Neither of my specialists have said anything about eliminating gluten.
My 17 year old daughter was first diagnosed with sudden onset Chronic Fatigue Syndrome when she was 12. Then a couple of years later she developed celiac. She has always been super flexible, but it wasn't until we saw a specialist for CFS that we found that it's actually an autoimmune-related condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (double jointed or hyper mobility). Yes, you're right, it's all tied together.
Thank you for all the information you share in your blog! It has been a great help to me!
When I first went gluten free, my doctor also recommended that I go dairy free and sugar free, which I did. While difficult (especially not really having the hang of eatin gluten free yet), I did feel much better. Slowly over time, I reintroduced both dairy and sugar and gained weight, lost a lot of the energy I'd gained, etc. The last 10 days I've also been dairy free and sugar free (not 100% perfect, but close) and once again, I feel like a new person. Much more energy ... energy I'd forgotten I was capable of.
I'm sharing this info, Linda, because it's possible that there may be other food issues playing a role with your fatigue and other dietary changes that might help the situation. Of course, I know none of us want those, but worth considering.
Last, Linda, I went through the same thing you did not that long ago with the thyroid meds. I had been taking Armour thyroid. I was not going to go on Sythroid. I was able to get compounded natural (porcine) thyroid meds, but they came in a capsule. The dosage was too much. My doctor said to try only taking half a capsule. Well, that was not easily done with a capsule, and I wasn't getting a high enough dosage. Finally, I came up with a solution that worked for me. Because thryoid meds are best absorbed on an empty stomach, I just started taking the full capsule in the middle of a meal. Worked great.
Hope you get some answers and resolution of these issues, Linda. I know how they can make one feel.
When our 7 year old was 4 years old, she was taking prescription strength pain medication for arthritis several times a day. When she went GF at 4 1/2, she was off of pain meds in less than two weeks! And she has continued to improve since then... in fact, one of the ways we know she has probably had accidental gluten intake is by her arthritis acting up. It's amazing.
Most physicians are using the old standard of 0.5 to 5.5 for normal when looking at test results, like mine was.
My husband has celiac disease and so I have been looking into it. I'm becoming more and more convinced it's the vaccines causing our bodies to freak out and attack itself. HAve any of you noticed a change or problem after you or your children received a vaccine?
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