Finally diagnosed at 44 years old
I too had symptoms from early childhood, I was misdiagnosed as having a cow's milk allergy - and was given goats milk as an infant. Suffered with anemia and abdominal bloating all thru childhood/young adulthood. Pictures of me as a child are funny, such a big belly for an otherwise normal sized child. Also big dark circles under my eyes - even at the age of 2!
In my early 40's I began to suffer worsening abdominal symptoms, and a debilitating case of "psoriatic arthritis". The pain was so bad many days I could not walk, I was sure I would be crippled before I was 50. I had asthma, constant sinus infections and was on 3 different daily meds for that as well as frequent hives. I would joke with my Dr. "I'm allergic to life!".
The Rheumatologist started me on various therapies, all of which I stopped after a few months due to horrible side effects. I can not begin to tell you the hopelessness I was feeling at that point. Finally I found that acupuncture provided me some relief from the pain, and I began to get weekly acupuncture treatment. It was expensive, and not covered by insurance, but it was some relief.
I had changed jobs, and went to a different acupuncturist who also practiced other forms of holistic treatments. The first day she saw me she made these observations. - your belly is so bloated, but you are otherwise so fit, you are wheezing, do you always wheeze like that? Finally she said, "HAVE YOU CONSIDERED YOU MAY HAVE A FOOD ALLERGY?" She said allergy to wheat and wheat gluten has been proven to provoke arthritis. She said I should consider an elimination diet.
I went home and did some research and within an hour I was absolutely convinced that was my problem. I contacted my Dr., was tested and found to have CD. A gluten free diet had me feeling absolutely amazing within a few weeks. I had my life and my health back. Gone was the fatigue and joint pain. Gone the bloating, abdominal pain and IBS. Also gone was the asthma, hives and sinus infections. Completely gone. At 52 I feel better than I have most of my adult life.
Now when I run across someone suffering from psoriatic arthritis, I ask them to consider they may have CD.
I often wonder how many people are diagnosed with diseases that are really just categories of symptoms - like psoriatic arthritis and IBS and suffer needlessly because their Dr. and indeed our entire health care system - is focused on treating symptoms (with expensive DRUGS) as opposed to searching for root causes.
Sadly my Mother was not as lucky, she passed away at the age of 73 having been sickly and arthritic most of her life. I am quite sure that she too suffered from CD, but was never diagnosed.
Steve's response - Thank you Liz for sharing your story. Happy to hear you are feeling better now that you are gluten free!