Posts tagged ‘dermatitis herpetiformis’

December 26, 2018

And So This Is Christmas…Sipping Chicken Soup

christmas cookiesAnd so this is Christmas…sipping chicken soup. My grandchildren have had a virus. Now I have it. I am self-isolating in an attempt to stop passing illnesses back and forth. FaceTime visits will have to suffice.

We all get the occasional virus, especially when the children we’re around start attending daycare. Most of the time, the symptoms come, annoy us for a few days, and resolve themselves. We may be miserable for a brief period of time, but we don’t really expect any long-term effects.

While we may not always put two and two together, some viruses can trigger other diseases. One of those diseases is Celiac Disease. Researchers have discovered evidence that indicates a reovirus infection may set the stage for, or trigger, Celiac Disease in those with a genetic predisposition for developing it.

For anyone who’s new to this blog, Celiac Disease is the result of an autoimmune response to exposure to the gluten protein found in wheat, rye, and barley that tells the body to attack itself. Gluten intolerance causes a variety of symptoms and can eventually lead to Celiac Disease. Diagnosis begins with screening tests for antibodies in the blood and is confirmed through intestinal biopsy. In those with the skin version Dermatitis Herpetiformis, a skin biopsy testing for the IgA antibody is sufficient for diagnosis.

Reovirus is a seemly innocuous intestinal virus – a stomach bug. There are different strains in this viral family known as Reoviridae. These viruses are hosted by plants, animals, fungi, and microscopic organisms.

One strain commonly found in humans was shown to cause an immune inflammatory response and loss of oral tolerance to gluten in mice. Patients with diagnosed Celiac Disease reviewed in the study showed a higher level of reovirus antibodies and IFR1 gene expression. The researchers believe that this suggests an infection with a reovirus can leave a permanent mark on the immune system, setting the stage for a later autoimmune response to gluten. If further research confirms this hypothesis, it opens the possibility for developing and recommending a vaccine for children at high risk for developing the disease.

I’m tired of coughing on my keyboard and I mostly want to sleep so I’m going to cut this short. There are links below if you’d like to read more about this study, Celiac Disease, or a gluten-free diet.

If you suffer from any of the following symptoms, you may suffer from gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease. One in 133 people in the US are affected, but a high percentage remain undiagnosed. For a definitive diagnosis, do not eliminate gluten from your diet prior to screening tests or biopsies.

To assist your doctor with diagnosis, you can begin with a DNA screening from 23andMe along with a home screening blood test. Home tests are for screening purposes only and cannot replace the training and expertise of a physician. Take any indicative results to your doctor along with a list of your symptoms to begin a conversation and receive a definitive diagnosis.

Symptoms Caused by Gluten Intolerance or Celiac Disease:

Vague abdominal pain
Weight loss
Malabsorption (Abnormality in digestion or absorption of food nutrients in the GI tract.)
Steatorrhea (Formation of non-solid feces.)
Behavioral changes
Fatigue or malaise
Growth delay

Abnormal coagulation
Anemia (Lack of healthy red blood cells.)
Hematologic diathesis
Skin/Mucous Membrane
Dermatitis Herpetiformis (Skin manifestation of celiac disease.)
Alopecia (Baldness – both universalis (from the entire skin) and areata (diffuse hair loss))
Aphthous ulcers (canker sores)
Abdominal or generalized swelling
Epistaxis (nose bleeds)
Easy bruisability
Cheilosis (Scaling at the corners of the mouth.)
Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (Chronic dry eye.)
Stomatitis (Inflammation of the mucous tissue of the mouth.)
Scaly dermatitis (Inflammation of the skin.)

Bone deformities
Broken bones
Non-specific bone pain
Joint pain(8)
Osteopenia (Low bone mineral density. Possible precursor to osteoperosis.)
Tetany (A combination of signs and symptoms due to unusually low calcium levels.)
Hyperreflexia (Overactive neurological reflexes.)
Carpopedal spasm (Spasms of the hands and feet.)
Laryngospasm (Spasm of the larynx, the voice box.)

Ataxia (coordination problems)
Myelopathy (Damage to white matter that carries motor signals to and from the brain.)
Peripheral neuropathy (Numbness and pain in hands and feet described as tingling or burning.)

Abdominal pain
Anorexia (poor appetite)
Dyspepsia (Recurrent discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen.)
Flatulence, distention
Foul-smelling or grayish stools that may be fatty or oily
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
Steatorrhea (Formation of non-solid feces.)
Stomach upset
Bowel is less able to absorb nutrients, minerals, and the fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E, and K.
Bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine
Failure to thrive (Poor weight gain and physical growth failure over an extended period of time in infancy.)
Growth Failure
Swollen joints
Iron deficiency anemia
Megaloblastic anemia
Muscle Wasting
Pubertal delay
Vitamin K deficiency
Weight loss

Hepatic disease (liver disease)
Hyposplenism (small and under active spleen)
Hyperparathyroidism (Excessive production of parathyroid hormone because of low calcium levels.)
IgA deficiency (Means you’re 10 times more likely to develop celiac disease, AND gives a false negative on screening.)
Increased risk of infections

Autoimmune disorders
Sjogren’s syndrome
Thyroid disease
Diabetes mellitus type 1
Autoimmune thyroiditis
Primary biliary cirrhosis
Microscopic colitis

mug of soup
Okay, I’m going to return my attention to my mug of chicken soup. Wishing you a peaceful, happy, virus-free rest of the holiday season!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

April 25, 2016

I Can See Clearly Now

Luckily, I can see clearly now – even when I play 2048 obsessively on my phone. In the years just prior to adopting a gluten-free diet, I suffered from many symptoms. One of those was dry eyes. When I woke up each morning, it felt like I had gravel in my eyes. I could no longer command my eyes to water at will. I sometimes asked a colleague in my office to tell me a sad story so I could cry and make my eyes feel better.
I tried every over-the-counter eye drop I could find. Some didn’t work at all. I was allergic to others. My opthalmologist explained to me that my eyelids were sticking to my eyes and causing little abrasions. That sounded bad and felt awful. She insisted I use RESTASIS®. I complied.

As I struggled to get a diagnosis for my constant aching, itchy rashes, tummy pain, diarrhea, and weakness, I began to include dry eye in my research. I discovered Sjogren’s Syndrome. This autoimmune disease affects an estimated 1 in 10 dry eye patients.

It often occurs alone, but can also occur along with other autoimmune diseases like celiac, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or scleroderma. As I began my gluten-free experiment, I was curious whether healing my gut would have a positive effect on my dry eye. My opthalmologist and I designed a plan to wean me off RESTASIS® so I could find out.

Like the itchy rashes caused by my dermatitis herpetiformis, the improvement in my eyes on a gluten-free diet has followed a much slower and sporadic path than the quick reduction in muscle pain & weakness, stomach pain, and other intestinal symptoms I experienced. My increased use of electronic devices hasn’t helped. While my eyes are still on the dry side, they are much improved as evidenced both by the way they feel and by my optometrist’s observation during yearly exams.
What I’ve discovered along the way is that overall hydration is important. When I drink too much tea or not enough water, I notice a difference. Wearing mascara of any sort results in drier eyes. And I’ve learned that I can supplement the eyes’ self-cleaning action by using eye wash once or twice a day. By making choices to support eye hydration, I had reached a level of adequate hydration with only occasional annoyance, but I can see more clearly now.

Recently, I found an eye cleansing yoga routine and decided to give it a try. It’s a simple set of eye movement exercises plus a period of time breathing while staring at a candle flame or small object about 24 inches in front of the eyes. As I stare and try not to blink, my eyes begin to water in the same manner I was previously able to command them to water at will.

After a few of days of this practice, I decided to try the staring technique while working. I stopped what I was doing, stared at an icon on my computer screen, and boom-bada-boom, it worked. My eyes began to water. I’m thrilled to have another simple solution at my disposal. I can see clearly now, can you?

September 15, 2015

Dermatitis Herpetiformis Leaves Me A Little Rough Around The Edges

This pineapple may be a little rough around the edges, but it’s also totally cute! In fact, it was the best find of my grocery shopping trip this week. Since then, every time I get dressed and feel the roughness on the back of my elbows I like to think of this pineapple. Why? Well, I have dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) – a skin manifestation of celiac disease, which sometimes leaves me rough around the edges. Thinking of this adorable pineapple reminds me that this annoying and ugly rash doesn’t prevent me from being the highlight of a meeting, the life of the party, a creative soul, a compassionate person, a smart cookie, or even a cutie pie.


DH on my elbow today.

I’m not saying I love having DH, but I am grateful that my long-term gluten-free lifestyle means that when it appears now it barely itches. In fact, now I often don’t notice the rash on my elbows until I run my hand across it when applying lotion. This wasn’t even close to true in the days when I consumed gluten. At that point, my rash was so unbearably itchy it required intense concentration at all times to keep from clawing at it. Sometimes I still couldn’t resist. It was driving me crazy!

I mean, it was seriously distracting. I had inflammation, pain, weakness, severe gastrointestinal symptoms, and my hair was falling out, yet the thing that drove me to the doctor was that itch. If you’ve had it, you understand why. If you haven’t there’s no way to express how pervasive it is. In spite of the fact that my case was a classic presentation, my doctor never considered celiac disease as a possible diagnosis. He prescribed an antihistamine and sent me on my way.

It was a long road from that point to one where I began healing. Looking back, I’d say the symptoms had been gradually increasing for at least 10 years. I know that the length of time it takes in the US to get a celiac diagnosis has dropped from 11 years to 4 years, but 4 years is a very long time to spend with a sixfold greater likelihood of death. Four years is a long time to deal with unnecessary daily pain, weakness, malaise, diarrhea, or the itchiest rash in the universe!

It’s become quite popular to debunk the benefits of a gluten-free diet for anyone other than the diagnosed celiac. While that might seem prudent if more than 17% of the 3,000,000 estimated celiacs in the US had been diagnosed, it is a bit presumptive at this point in history and it discourages people from trusting what their body is telling them. While I know that some of the self proclaimed gluten-free community is ill informed (as Jimmy Fallon discovered:, perpetually whiny, or over promotes itself, it’s worth pausing a moment before discouraging or challenging someone’s dietary choices. It could be that they feel on the inside like I felt on the outside when this rash, triggered by the iodine in radioactive dye used for a CT scan, covered 2/3 of my body.

As you can see, I was more than a little rough around the edges. If someone is feeling like that on the inside, I just want them to feel better, don’t you?



November 22, 2013

Gratitude Is My Best Defense

Today I’m going to share my gratitude list. Yes, next week is Thanksgiving, but don’t be fooled, this post is only inadvertently timely. I am struggling. I can see that I’m not functioning as well as I usually do.

In an attempt to stay focused on a healthy routine, I headed for the lap pool yesterday. When I got in the shower at the gym, I discovered my swimsuit was on backward. I KNOW. I’m not sure how you can put a swimsuit on backward either, but I did it! How distracted am I? Leaving, I forgot to change out of my pool shoes, and then I almost hit a pole in the parking lot.

What has me feeling so discombobulated? A perfect storm of L-I-F-E. We all have them. Mine happens to be accompanied by the worst dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) I’ve ever had. I’d say at least 3/4 of my body is covered in the unbearably itchy rash. It is wearing me out and driving me to distraction at a time when I feel like I need to be on top of my game.

I’m usually full of solutions, but right now I simply don’t know what to do. I feel vulnerable and alone. The best defense I have against becoming overwhelmed is to focus on something for which I’m grateful.

So…I am grateful…

 That my mom was released from the hospital yesterday

That I took my truck in before the universal joint totally fell apart and left me stranded

That there is chili in the fridge so that I don’t have to cook dinner

For sea salt caramel gelato

That my plants haven’t died even though I’ve neglected them

That I have a back scratcher when I can’t stand to leave this rash alone

That my new walking shoes are finally feeling comfortable

For Nutella

For the smell of cinnamon rolls

For silver jewelry with filigree

For purple, and orange, and paisley

That it’s raining outside

For soft clothes

For funky eyeglasses

For crushed ice

For warm blankets

For laughter

For books

For the approaching holidays

For snow

Anyone else feel like this? Want to join me? What are you grateful for?