Lot’s of people have asked me, “what happens to John if he eats gluten?” or “is it just a faddy diet?” Now, you can see the error in asking a Biomedical Science student this question, and hoping to get a short response! I’ve dumbed it down a few times for the sake of sheer compassion and geniality. But at times, I really feel like going full force at people. Why? Because I am quite annoyed with the gluten infested world we live in at times, and the general attitude that it is not a serious condition. This may be true when compared with other food related conditions such as allergies and intolerances, but the fact still remains that this autoimmune condition causes tissue inflammation, villous atrophy and the associated sequelae of malabsorption in the undiagnosed patient. Before diagnosis, my son (then aged 8) was experiencing excruciating abdominal cramps most evenings; diarrhoea; steatorrhoea; rectal bleeding; fluctuation blood glucose results; fatigue and a plethora of mood swings alongside raised HbA1c results. Now, I know this is not life threatening, but he already was facing Type 1 Diabetes everyday which is life threatening, and we were about to be hit with a double whammy! Telling people that he “gets an upset tummy” really doesn’t do this justice, but would you be happy to tell the local checkout girl at Tesco that your son has a vast array of autoantibodies creating war on the villi of his intestines, possibly leading to widespread tissue atrophy?
From a diagnosis point of view, blood tests were ran at our local Paediatric Diabetes and Endocrinology clinic at Crosshouse hospital in Ayrshire, and I got a phonecall 6 weeks later (whilst in a genetics lecture would you believe?) to say his results were conclusive of high titres of autoantibodies. The next step for diagnosis would be a biopsy at Yorkhill Children’s Hospital in Glasgow, and until that time he was to remain eating a normal diet containing the very proteins that were causing all of this pain. so, you can see that this process took about nearly three months. Whilst a child is in pain, this is not conducive to a happy family life at all. But, we should be grateful because there are others whom wait years and years to be diagnosed with Coeliac disease.
On awakening from his anaesthesia, the consultant came to the ward to tell me he should begin a gluten free diet straight away! So there we have it, the patient perspective of how these HLA DQ gene’s play themselves out in real life. And on our gluten free journey we continue.
A few interesting links on coeliac diseases can be found below:
Coeliac Disease from a histopathological approach : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1861744/
The effects of gluten free diet on glucose control for those with diabetes : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1763216/
Coeliac Uk, the leading charity for those living with the condition.
www.ilumiworld.com – a new provider of healthy, gluten free ready meals for those who cannot spend every day slogging over a hot stove!
www.glutafin.co.uk – a well known provider of free prescription food
www.dsglutenfree.com – a brand which can be found in most supermarkets.
http://www.wheat-freebakerydirect.com/ – an amazing online ordering company, who make Tiger bread, and doughnuts, and goodies (Oooh hungry?)
http://gfreebythesea.me/ – a fellow blogger, in the Plymouth area of the UK!