FeaturesAug/Sep 2010 Issue

Celiac Disease, By Accident

Can this genetic condition be triggered by trauma?

In July 2007, Emily Eland and her two best friends, Jack and Carli, took two jet-skis out on the Columbia River to watch the sunset. As Emily, then 15, sped ahead on her jet-ski, Jack and Carli followed closely behind on theirs. When she slowed to a stop, having found a great spot to view the dipping sun, Jack failed to see her. What happened next would change Emily’s life.

“I was t-boned by their jet-ski going 30 mph,” she reports matter-of-factly.

Jack and Carli escaped serious injury but the impact launched Emily off her jet-ski. She landed 30 feet away—her femur severed and left leg hanging on by a strip of hamstring. She was life-flighted to the trauma center in Portland, where over the next 14 days, she underwent four surgeries to repair her badly broken femur and reconstruct torn muscles. A titanium rod was inserted inside her femur, through her bone marrow, with screws placed at her hip and knee. Because the trauma was so extensive, doctors had to repeatedly re-enter her wound to surgically remove dead tissue.

After two and a half weeks, Emily was released from the hospital, weak but excited to go home. Just two days later, however, a blood clot in her calf forced her back in the hospital. The clot took three months to dissipate. In the ensuing months, Emily underwent three hours of grueling physical therapy almost every day. She was determined to start her first day of her junior year of high school on her own two feet, not on crutches. Miraculously, she did it.

A Setback

About three months after the accident, Emily began suffering from terrible stomachaches.

“They seemed to start around 6:00 o’clock every night,” says Emily’s mom, Sheila Fitzgerald of Bend, Oregon. The pain was so intense that Emily struggled to eat dinner most nights, wanting instead just to go to bed.

“I was so tired and my stomach hurt so much I had to lie down all the time. I missed a lot of school that fall,” says Emily.

Her family doctor examined Emily and suggested, among other possibilities, that an allergy flare up could be the culprit. Emily had previously been diagnosed with allergies to grass and hay.

But before long it wasn’t just stomachaches and fatigue. Emily’s hair was falling out in huge clumps. “I was also losing lots of weight. It was really scary. I had no idea what was happening to me,” recalls Emily.

Sheila was concerned, too. “She’s a beautiful girl but she was suddenly ghostly looking. She lost all of her coloring almost overnight.”

Emily’s orthopedic specialist, who had been coordinating most of her recovery and physical therapy, suggested Emily could have post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). “While PTSD seemed more likely than an allergy flare, my maternal instincts said that wasn’t the problem either,” says Sheila.

Emily agreed. “I felt traumatized right after the accident, but I was no longer sad or depressed about it. I was moving on from the accident. Suddenly I was really sick in a weird way. I didn’t think that PTSD could explain my symptoms.”

Concerned about her granddaughter’s declining health, Emily’s grandmother sent Sheila a newspaper clipping about celiac disease. The short six-line health brief suggested a link between the condition and severe trauma.

For the first time since the mysterious symptoms started, Sheila thought they were on to something. Armed with the article, Sheila took Emily to their family doctor the following Monday morning to be tested for celiac disease. He initially balked at the request, saying he didn’t think it could be celiac disease. But Sheila was insistent and the doctor eventually agreed to run a celiac panel.

A week later, Sheila got a phone call on a Sunday evening. It was Emily’s doctor. “He was in disbelief about the test results,” remembers Sheila. “The numbers were off the charts.” Later that week, a gastroenterologist performed an endoscopic biopsy and quickly confirmed the diagnosis—Emily had celiac disease.

Within days of starting the gluten-free diet, Emily felt tremendously better. “Before long, my hair got a lot healthier and I didn’t look so pale,” says Emily. “I finally felt like I was recovering from everything that had happened that summer and fall. The celiac diagnosis was the final part of that whole experience for me.”

An Uncertain Link

Although the timing of Emily’s accident and her celiac diagnosis point to a connection, the two may not be related.

“It’s not clear that trauma actually causes celiac disease,” says Peter H.R. Green, MD, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. There have been anecdotal reports, such as the newspaper article Emily’s grandmother found, but no solid evidence to support an association.

The difficulty is that we don’t know precisely when celiac disease starts, Green notes. We may know when symptoms started but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s when the disease started.

For many celiacs, symptoms don’t kick in until there already is significant intestinal damage. But others may never develop symptoms. In fact, up to two-thirds of celiacs may be asymptomatic, according to Stefano Guandalini, MD, medical director of The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. People with symptomatic celiac disease represent just “the tip of the celiac iceberg,” he says.

 

“Asymptomatic celiacs often seek medical treatment for something else,” says Carol Shilson, executive director of The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. “An accident or other illness tends to bring them to the attention of the medical community. It’s at that point that celiac disease may be exposed.”

“Trauma may lead to a diagnosis of celiac disease but not to the disease itself,” explains Green.

A traumatic accident brought Shilson’s own undiagnosed celiac disease to light. In 2003, she was involved in a serious car accident. She was approaching an intersection when someone made a left turn through the intersection, hitting her. Fortunately, neither Shilson nor the other driver was seriously injured but Shilson’s car was totaled. In the months following the accident, Shilson began noticing gastrointestinal problems. Trying to pinpoint a cause, she reviewed what had changed in her life recently—the accident stuck out. When she was finally diagnosed with celiac disease several months later, she wondered if the accident had anything to do with it. Shilson asked her doctor if there was any connection. “I was told it was probably a coincidence. Most likely I had celiac much longer than just the few months since the accident.”

Although celiac experts have yet to support a link between trauma and celiac onset, Stefano Guandalini won’t rule it out entirely. “Trauma can cause major stress to the body. That stress could be a relevant piece somewhere on the pathway to developing celiac disease or celiac symptoms,” he says. “There’s still a lot to learn about this disease.”

Finding Triggers

As with all autoimmune diseases, celiac disease is thought to involve a complex interaction of genetic and environmental (or outside) factors. So far, two genetic markers, HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8, have been implicated in the condition. The key environmental factor, gluten, has also been identified. But it appears there’s more to celiac disease than gluten and genes. The two genetic markers are relatively common in the general population and gluten is ubiquitous in today’s diet, yet just 1 percent of Americans have the condition. As researchers continue to look for other genes, they also hope to pinpoint additional factors important to disease onset.

© D. Boswell Photography
The scar on Emily Eland's leg is the only visible reminder of her accident.

One such factor may be infection. Over the years, infections have been studied in connection with the onset of a variety of autoimmune conditions, including Type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. When a report in the medical literature noted the symptomatic onset of celiac disease following a confirmed case of Campylobacter jejuni enteritis (traveler's diarrhea), it was among the first to suggest that an environmental factor other than gluten—in this case, an infection—could be important to the onset of symptomatic celiac disease.

Recently, a large study of children with the genetic markers for celiac disease linked repeated rotavirus infections, one of the most common causes of diarrhea in children, with an increased risk of developing celiac disease later in life.

Just how an infection might precipitate celiac disease or celiac symptoms is unclear, however. One theory is that repeated infections chronically stimulate the immune system, which may, in turn, trigger an autoimmune reaction in genetically susceptible people.

Others hypothesize that a mechanism known as molecular mimicry is to blame. Here, a foreign protein, such as an infectious bacteria or virus, tricks the body into attacking its own cells that have similar enough characteristics to the bacteria or virus. Molecular mimicry has been suggested in connection with the onset of multiple sclerosis, another autoimmune condition.

Still others posit that infections—in particular gastrointestinal ones—may alter intestinal permeability, allowing gluten proteins to slip past the protective intestinal barriers and mingle with the immune system.

A serious gastrointestinal infection when Shilson was in the third grade may have set off her celiac disease, some 20 years prior to her car accident and diagnosis. “When my doctor and I looked back at my medical records and various symptoms over the years, he suspected that early infection could have been the start of celiac disease for me,” Shilson says.

Altered intestinal permeability is a leading explanation behind another factor that may be involved in the onset of celiac disease—abdominal surgery.

There is evidence that abdominal surgery can cause major changes in intestinal permeability, says Guandalini. A sudden increase in permeability could be a trigger for celiac disease in genetically predisposed individuals. One study reported the onset of symptomatic celiac disease following upper digestive tract surgery in a small sample of adult patients.

Although Emily had four surgeries following her accident, none were abdominal surgeries, says her mom. They were all on her left leg.

Yet another important factor may be pregnancy. Guandalini says pregnancy has been reported in connection with the onset of symptomatic celiac disease. It’s thought that the demands of nourishing a growing fetus, in combination with hormonal and other immune system changes, may stress the body and, in genetically predisposed women, activate symptoms.

With each of the potential environmental factors—infection, surgery and pregnancy—major stress to the body and immune system is a common theme.

Patients point to stress as well. In 2002, more than 2,600 adults with biopsy-proven celiac disease completed a questionnaire (the Canadian Celiac Survey), which included questions on possible triggers that occurred within six months prior to the onset of their clinical symptoms. More than 23 percent of respondents identified severe stress. (The specific nature of the stress, such as trauma, was not described.) Nine percent reported a severe gastrointestinal infection, 8 percent had a pregnancy and 7 percent had major surgery.

Researchers at a number of institutions, including The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, The Mayo Clinic, and Stanford University, are studying what turns on celiac disease in genetically predisposed individuals.

Recently, a team at The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center developed the world's first mouse model of celiac disease. This gives researchers a better tool to study possible triggers. It’s also hoped that the model will unlock the key to a vaccine and perhaps even a cure to the disease, Shilson says. The Center has undertaken a $2 million campaign to fund the research.

Living Fully

Even if the jet-ski accident didn’t directly cause Emily’s celiac disease, the two events will always be linked for her and her mother.

“The accident was so traumatic that I thought it would permanently change her and affect the rest of her life,” says Sheila. “While her friends were windsurfing or horseback riding competitively all over the state, Emily was learning how to use her leg again. Then she had to cut gluten out of her diet. But she never complained. She just moved on. I’m very proud of her.”

Emily’s immediate family members have since been checked for celiac disease—all tested negative.

Now three years after the accident, Emily is thriving. Today, she’s an active freshman at Oregon State University where she lives in a dorm, eats in the dining hall and keeps a well-stocked, gluten-free mini-fridge in her room as back-up.

Although living with celiac disease at college is an inconvenience—Emily would love to eat pizza with friends in the dining hall or at the sorority she recently joined—it’s not so bad, she says. She’s grateful to be feeling so healthy these days. Plus, she’s doing well academically and just declared business as her major. When asked if she feels any limitations in her life, she struggles to think of any. “Maybe running” she says, after 

pondering hard. “I can’t run more than a block or two without pain, but I manage to stay fit with plenty of other fun activities, including horseback riding.”

“Not much stops her,” says Sheila. “The accident showed that—and celiac disease proved it.”

Comments (24)

There has been a lot of studies done on microbes in the gut and celiac disease. Maybe the antibiotics changed the microbes in the gut and for that reason she developed celiac disease. Dr. Faso has been doing research on this topic. Maybe all the stories should be sent him for further studies.

Posted by: dewolfg | May 5, 2014 2:49 PM    Report this comment

It is interesting that they can associated trauma and illnesses with the beginning of gluten allergies. We can date the beginning of my daughter's gluten allergies to when she had a febrile illness for a week. After that she developed ptyorriasis rose, a rash associated with one of the higher Herpes viruses. After she recovered she found she couldn't run track like she did before. Her legs would fell heavy and then looked visibly puffy and red. She was a little anemic, but the iron pills never seemed to help. After about 6 months of this, we tried a gluten free diet and within a week her track times started to improve and her headaches resolved. Her hemoglobin came back up. She has continued to be well with a strict gluten free diet. We never had testing done. It just works. Food allergies do run in the family.

Posted by: MomGF | May 3, 2014 2:22 PM    Report this comment

If you are craving gluten free pizza, try www.livingwithout.com for their GF pizza recipe.

Posted by: Unknown | April 4, 2013 12:40 PM    Report this comment

I think that antibiotics, especially strong ones like Emily probably had after her surgeries, cause intestinal dysbiosis. I believe that it is the dysbiosis that is part of what is contributing to so many food allergies and gluten allergies. I have read articles that suggest that candida albicans can overgrow in the gut due to antibiotics and that wheat gluten is seen by the immune system as similar organisms, therefore causing the body to attack the protein the way it would attack the yeast infection.

I would love to read articles in your magazine about how antibiotics may be linked to digestive disorders. This explanation would make sense of why Emily developed a severe food allergy after her traumatic hospital stay. It also makes sense that emotional trauma causes digestive disorders. Many strong emotions can cause the stomach to flip-flop or have butterflies, and severe trauma must really magnify that. Thanks for such a thought provoking article.

Posted by: Mariann B | December 12, 2012 12:48 AM    Report this comment

I was diagnosed celiac at the age of 67 after three back surgeries over 13 months. The first was to fuse the lower lumbar spine due to spinal stenosis. During or shortly after that surgery I was infected with streptoccis aureius which lasted ten months until the hardware was removed from my spine in an emergency situation. Different antibiotics and a pic line did not kill the infection. Because the fusion was a failure, and because of lack of surgical time available in the OR, I had to wait three months to have my back refused with new hardware. Again, I got the same infection and felt that I would die from the expensive and strong antibiotic I endured for 5 more months. However, it did put the infection into remission and after six years I have not had a recurrance.

I believed it was the antibiotics that were causing the severe abdominal pain and diarrhea that started during recovery after my third surgery. I also suffered a severe depression while still hospitalized during recovery from that surgery. I signed myself out of hospital into a psych ward at a different hospital. I also began seeing a different infectious disease physician complaining about the antibiotics causing my gut problems and weight loss. It didn't take him long to suggest I might have celiac disease. I thank him for saving my life. The biopsy came back positive for celiac.

Since then I have been on a long road for five years back to semi recovery. Going gluten free helped kill most of my abdominal problems. At times it flares up and I guess I inadvertently got into some gluten. The surgeries themselves have created more difficulties by way of neuromuscular problems that are onging.

These reports by other suffering souls confirm my belief that the trauma of the surgeries and perhaps all the antibiotics did trigger my celiac disease. No one on either side of my family is celiac and the children and grandchildren are symptom free.

Thank you for printing the stories of others.

Posted by: Janet Z | December 5, 2012 9:15 PM    Report this comment

Good article. When I look back, I see a few things: heredity (northern Europe lineage), small stature/malnourished) always underweight, through age 50;Never had much interest in food. Eat to live attitude always. Appendectomy at age 9. (Lost reservoir for good gut bacteria.) Lots of stomaches as a child--usually after breakfast (cereal was always the entree). Cream of Wheat made me vomit at school one day in the fourth grade. Appendectomy might have been the trigger. Always despised bread, pasta, pastries, and the like. Sensitive stomach to many foods; especially gassy or greasy ones. Hair loss began when I took on a new business and worked hard 60-80 hours/week; adrenal fatigue; hormones; ate a burrito that put me in the hospital with gastritis. A month later, I saw a news show that spotlighted Celiac Disease. I gathered the info form the website referred to viewers, checked off symptoms and took the list to my doctor. I was put on a gluten free diet immediately. No insurance--no blood test at that time. Done 6 months later. Came back positive (only because I didn't understand what was gluten free and what wasn't). Been five years now. Rarely have gas, but not fully compliant with diet, still. Feel fatigue. Anxiety/depression issues related to Celiac (especially when I neglect food intake.) Aches and pains. But rarely stomach or intestinal discomfort. I was in denial for probably 2-3 years before I started taking the diet more seriously. I could still use a dietician to help out. Actually a personal shopper! and a cook! Even someone who has walked this path ahead of me and has it managed well. Trauma: appendectomy as a child and major stress 40 years later!

Posted by: Unknown | December 1, 2012 10:46 PM    Report this comment

I feel compelled to comment after reading 2 others about shingles. I had shingles in college, at the age of 19. It was shortly after that I began having digestive troubles which were diagnosed as celiac disease 22 years later.

Posted by: CJ | November 29, 2012 11:33 AM    Report this comment

I think the stress i was under as I prepared to retire after being in the work force for 40 years is what started my Celiac. It took a year to diagnose but now I am completely gluten free and fill much better. I still don't have alot of stamina but some of it may be my age. Lynda in Texas

Posted by: Lynda M | November 28, 2012 8:08 PM    Report this comment

My symptoms did not appear until I came home from a 4 month stay in India with a protozoan infection in my intestines at age 28. The infection was cleared out but since that time, I have had bloating and all sorts of other symptoms if I eat gluten. I am now 64 and on a gluten-free diet, feeling great. I was on and off the diet for 30 years and every time I went off it, it was harder to recover my good feeling. Finally, I just decided never to have gluten again. Luckily now there are so many nutritious and tasty alternatives that it is easy.

Posted by: F. Marie H | November 28, 2012 3:07 PM    Report this comment

It is very interesting to read all of the comments - Celiac is such a mystery disease, with so many varied symptoms, presenting "causes", etc! My husband for years had been treating varied GI issues, that doctors always attributed to Irritable Bowel Syndrome ~ as an adult, at 52 yrs. of age, he began suffering with an intensely itchy rash, which presented just on his lower buttocks, elbows, and knees ~ with fluid-filled pockets (which we know now to be the dermatitis herpeteformis, specifically attributed to celiac. Our local family doctors monkeyed with diagnosing/treating for almost a year, before we chose on our own to consult with a dermatologist, who recognized the rash at first glimpse! Not realizing they were related symptoms, he had also experienced almost total hearing loss in one ear, as well as a deep bone/joint pain that drs. felt was arthritic in nature. Now, after 4 years of being gluten-free, ALL symptoms are gone, and he's feeling the best he ever has! Since his diagnosis, our 28 yr. old daughter, and her 2 yr. old son have also been diagnosed with celiac disease. Too bad some people have to get so severely affected before it is finally successfully diagnosed, and they can experience a relief of their misery! I admire my family's attitude - my husband is just so glad to feel better, and thankful the disease is so treatable. He never complains. I do alot of baking, and have found lots of ways to create tasty food that most would never guess is gluten free. Good luck to all of you who are struggling with not feeling well ~ life is tough enough without having to go through it feeling rotten! ☺

Posted by: Lola B | November 28, 2012 11:50 AM    Report this comment

My oh my, where do I begin. This article has been a light bulb moment for me. I am brought to tears of the relivation I have had in reading this article. I have suffered with diffrent "medically unexpained ailments" my entire adult life. Starting at age 30. I am now 51. My sysmptoms started as Chronic fatigue syndrom,which lasted a couple of years. Followed by Panic attacks and anxiety. Was told that I was low in Estrogen, so had Estrogen pellets inplanted, which was overdosed and rather than lasting 3 months, they lasted 3 years! Can't remove surgically inplanted pelllets, once they have been inserted. This overdose of Estrogen, caused my hormonal system to shut down, which created a multitude of problems to include infertitility. Prior to my first symptom of Chronic Fatigue, I came down with an intensetinal infection from a CanCun Mexico trip. And suffered for one year before finally getting a biopsy to confirm infestation of the Helicobactor Pyrolli bacteria I contracted while in mexico. Was given a two week round of very strong Antibiotics to kill the bacteria, but was told that this type of bacteria is tough to kill. Shortly after this episode, I came down with severe joint pains, and dicovered that I had leaky gut syndrome. Healed my gut with strong Pro-biotics and still taking them proactivily. Wanting to have at least one child in my life time, I decided to go thru invitro treatments in attempts to get pregnant at age 40. After 6 long years of very high does of fertility drugs, I finally concieved. After managing a very high risk pregnancy, for seven months to include gestational diabetes, and gestational high blood pressure, I ended up in the emergency room with a six week early emergency c-section to a 3 lb. baby girl. Doctors could not identify why she was under durress and why she was losing oxygen, but Thank God I listened to my Motherly instincts and went to the hospital to my "high risk" Dr. to investigate why I was notcing lack of fetal movement for three days prior to her delivery. Anyway, abdominal surgery, it was indeed. About one year after delivering my baby, I started having severe gastrointestinal distress, to include chronich severe diahrea, as well as severe joint pain. (Fibromyalgia diagnosis) I was pretty much home bound for several years, until one day when I was researching food allergies on my daughter's behalf .(She has life threastening food allergies to Nuts, Eggs, shell fish and pennicillin). I stumbled accross a Dr. that offered to let me take his online Endrocrinolgy class (Normally only offered to other Dr.s). During my studies, I discovered that my symptoms were likely from Gluten inolterance at the very least, or full blown Celiacs at the worst. After running some medical test, it was confirmed. I have Celiac's. FINALLY, I had a name to this monster I was living with. I immedialty started following a 100% Gluten free diet and 8 years later, am feeling so much better. My ADD has improved, and my brain fog has gone away completely, as well as very little joint pain, and no more diahrea! Now, if they could just come up with a cure I would be one happy camper! Sherri M. Dallas, TX.

Posted by: Sherri M | November 27, 2012 7:11 PM    Report this comment

My gluten issues began exactly 1 month to the day after having my last period and entering menopause. Prior to that time I had no symptoms but woke up that particular day with every one ever mentioned in any article. It has taken almost 3 years of research to finally put all the pieces together. When I stick to being gluten free I am about 70% symptom free and can at least enjoy life again.

Posted by: Kim T | November 27, 2012 5:40 PM    Report this comment

I have wondered if I now am gluten sensitive because of having had amoebas in Mexico in 1996. I haven't been tested for Celiac, but a doctor advised me to stop eating gluten, which I did for three months, and I was astonished at how much better I was and felt. Now I don't think I can be tested, since I've avoided gluten for over 5 years.

Posted by: Marcia F | November 27, 2012 4:40 PM    Report this comment

I believe my trigger was in the form of hormone overdose. I was prescribed Prempro and the estrogen patch for almost 2 yrs. Once I consulted a new OB/GYN in town, he was visably upset. Following a DNC, then a hysterectomy, I came down with autoimmune thyroid disease, psoriasis all over my hands, brain fog, and years of diarrhea. In 9 years no doctor ever connected the dots. I was prescribed anti-depressants which caused a 50 lb. weight gain. I was praying for help. That "Voice" that is in ones mind spoke to me one morning and said, "It's gluten." Since I'd never heard of gluten, I can only attribute it to God. After a Google search, I found my problem. I've been gluten free for almost 4 years, and I am in the best of health at age 67.

Posted by: Janice B | November 27, 2012 4:22 PM    Report this comment

I wonder if antibiotics which kill gut flora also, have an adverse effect on the gut permeability.

Posted by: Susan L | November 27, 2012 3:34 PM    Report this comment

Much truth to this article. I also developed symptoms after a case of the shingles at the young age of 51. It was almost 3 months exactly. Fortunately my birth daughter has Celiac so my diagnosis was quick.Thanks for the article.

Posted by: Nancy M | November 27, 2012 3:27 PM    Report this comment

Great Article! Sounds like there is a wealth of evidence that celiac symptoms tend to be brought on by a trigger. I began having celiac symptoms during my first pregnancy. It was 12 years later and four babies later before I was diagnosed with celiac disease. All of my babies suffered growth retardation due to the malabsorption. My children now range from age 17 to 22, and three of them show signs of latent celiac disease.

Posted by: Debbie B | November 27, 2012 2:39 PM    Report this comment

That is very interesting; I've never heard of celiac happening after a traumatic event. We still have a lot to learn about the disease. That's awesome that she was diagnosed so quickly. On a personal note, I believe that I developed gluten sensitivity after a bad reaction to penicillin. I'm wondering if Emily had an adverse reaction to something that was given to her during her hospital stay, and that in turn caused the celiac? I guess the bottom line is that mercifully she was diagnosed and is living a much healthier, happier life.

Posted by: June_Buggy | November 9, 2012 8:59 PM    Report this comment

3 months, the timing is spot on. A few years ago, I moved to a new city with my family and let's just say I wasn't happy about it. The stress of moving and leaving my friends was horrible. I started getting panic attacks every day that summer. After about 3 months, I had to start my new school and that was when I began getting the stomachaches. They would come during class, after, at night--whenever they wanted and of varying degrees of pain. I thought I was allergic to my new school! I didn't tell anyone because I thought it was more psychosomatic pain, and I just put up with it for 3 years. Finally, I told my mom and my doctor did some tests. I didn't even know what Celiac Disease was, but I had it. No one else in my family has been diagnosed. I wonder if my mom has it, and it's dormant like it was in me? I think I triggered it with the stress.

Posted by: Kyrie | June 12, 2012 6:35 PM    Report this comment

Yes, I agree about trauma. I started having intense digestive problems while enduring several months of intense stress and psychological trauma due to cultural differences and personal hearing loss agrivating the situation in which I was living and working. These digestive problems continued until I was diagnosed 4 years later with celiac disease. (By a naturopath) When I got off gluten I was fine. I had read that stress was a factor in causing the gene to be triggered. Thanks everyone for contributing your information. Marilyn in Alabama

Posted by: Marilyn A | January 26, 2012 9:13 PM    Report this comment

I did get very sick for 2 days while on a trip to Morocco 2 years ago and then was diagnosed with Celiac a year ago, but couldn't imagine that I lived for 53 years without knowing. Now after reading this article, I guess it's not so unusual. Thank you for writing this and enlightening us.

Posted by: Debbi L | January 26, 2012 2:40 PM    Report this comment

I've always felt my Celiac symptoms started 3 months after I had Shingles - Fortunately for me I only suffered for 3 months. After the biopsy I started healing as well. I too miss pizza with friends, but having my health back is so worth it.

Posted by: Nancy M | January 26, 2012 11:38 AM    Report this comment

I do truly believe that celiac can be trigger by trauma or a stressor in your life. I was diagnosed with celiac disease after a very stressful event in my life. I had been having trouble a few years prior but had a biopsy which was negative. This was a great article. Thank you so much. Dawn, Louisiana

Posted by: Unknown | September 9, 2010 8:27 PM    Report this comment

Go Emily! It is great to hear that our youth can overcome obstacles and come out winners. You are definitely a winner. Thanks for the informative article. School Nurse in OKC.

Posted by: Gwen K | August 19, 2010 2:56 PM    Report this comment

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