Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Taking Matters In My Own Hands Part 2- The Case Of The Leaky Gut



Throughout my dealings with multiple chronic illnesses I have seen a couple of naturopaths on and off over a couple of years, desperate for alternate answers. Desperate for relief and just darn desperate for anything really. Anything that may provide a glimmer of hope, a ray of light at the end of this dark, dense and narrow tunnel. I've tried gluten and dairy free diets only to give up because they are not the solution to a cure. Especially in a fatigue flare when I'm depressed and desperate enough, I'll force myself to go gluten free only to lose motivation by the fact medical tests state no reason for me to be on such a diet.

In recent times the fatigue has become so unmerciful that I'm even considering a return to a naturopath along with a return to extreme dieting. Even if I can gain an ounce of extra energy, I will be ecstatic. With the whole debacle about my declining stomach and skin woes (which I discussed with you in part 1), research has lead me down one hell of an interesting path. Upon my last visit to the naturopath I learned that I have Leaky Gut Syndrome (based on naturopathic test findings). At the time I didn't think twice about it. It was a nautropathic diagnosis, which means very little in the medical world. However, in my current quest for answers, I have revisited this overlooked so called syndrome.

Wikipedia describes Leaky Gut Syndrome as:
A condition of altered or damaged bowel lining, caused by toxins, poor diet, parasites, infection or medications, which has led to increased permeability of the gut wall to substances which normally remain isolated in the lumen, away from the body's internal circulatory or interstitial areas. NSAIDS such as aspirin are known to erode the gut lining and cause inflammation, other medications such as corticosteroids suppress immune function and disturb intestinal flora, and antibiotics indiscriminately kill bacteria causing bacterial flora disruptions in the small intestine. (1)

It has been proposed that, when substances such as toxins, microbes, undigested food, waste or larger than normal macromolecules leak through an abnormally-permeable gut wall, they affect the body directly, while others postulate an immune reaction to these substances. (1)

( image credit to http://www.leakygutcure.com/)

In simple terms, my body is not absorbing nutrients properly and is therefore digesting food poorly, leaking into the bloodstream. It makes sense that if my digestive system is not working correctly, my skin will suffer also. Leaky Gut Syndrome has also apparently been linked to conditions such as Celiac disease, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Eczema, Dermatitis and Ulcerative Colitis by alternate practitioners (2). I have five of these conditions so surely this "syndrome" has to count for something, surely this must be an answer to the years of unanswered frustration. Further research revealed that Leaky Gut Syndrome also produces food allergies and intolerances such as gluten and dairy and the proposed treatment for Leaky Gut involve a diet low in sugar and free from gluten and dairy.


Symptoms of Leaky Gut:
(3)
  •  abdominal discomfit
  •  bloating, distension
  •  reflux, indigestion
  •  burping, flatulence, gaseousness
  •  diarrhoea &/or constipation
  •  problems sleeping
  •  irritability or weird behaviour
  •  allergy prone eg hayfever, sinus
  •  skin eruptions - rashes, acne, boils, eczema

The fact that I have most of the above symptoms which have been particularly troublesome over the last six months speaks volumes, the only trouble is most doctors don't believe in the condition. I don't understand why this isn't being looked into, this could be one of the answers to why my immune system has gone haywire. Instead of feeling enlightened, I only feel more burdened. I have opened a can full of confusion.

I recently read that one way to treat Irritable Bowel is to avoid refined sugar due to the fact that sugar craving is a symptom, but obviously Leaky Gut has caused the Irritable Bowel so why treat just that? That will just band aid the problem for a while if I'm lucky. Part of me thinks that if I eliminate dairy, sugar and gluten I'll unlock the door to health but on the other hand if doctors are saying it's rubbish, what am I to do? Not to mention the fact that I don't have the strength to tough out a diet to that extreme.

I would like to bring this up with my doctor but I don't even know how to go about it. Leaky Gut explains all of my symptoms and while I'm relieved that it's not all in my head, with doctors not acknowledging this as a condition leaves me feeling like a basket case. Being a possible cause for my mountain of health problems, Leaky Gut stirs up the argument 'which came first, the chicken or the egg'? Did Leaky Gut cause my illnesses- this turmoil, an unwelcome hike in treacherous terrain? Or did the truck load of NSAIDS used to treat the illnesses cause the Leaky Gut? Is it the reason why my fatigue has become so unbearable over the last nine months?


Especially after eliminating the bulk of dairy for the past six weeks with slight improvement, and noticing symptoms flare after masses of gluten consumption, I'm a little suspicious that this unknown silent syndrome is causing a food intolerance of some sort. I've had the blood test for celiac disease in consideration that it is connected to Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis, after displaying all the symptoms; only to be found negative, but how conclusive is the blood test? It took four years for rheumatoid factor to show up, so of course one simple blood test hasn't put my mind at ease. I'm frustrated and tired of feeling out of control, I'm over the feeling of confusion with every symptom overlapping each condition. It seems every condition is linked to anything and everything and I'm tired of not  knowing what is going on anymore. What symptom is coming from what condition? All I know is that I want answers and I am willing to jump through hoops to get them. So it's back to the doctor I go.....



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3 comments:

Jamee @ A New Kind of Normal said...

I completely understand your frustration! But just so you know it is entirely possible to have Celiac disease but test negative for the antibodies. I am one of the oddballs who tests negative but all biopsies verify Celiac. That is why it took them 5 years to diagnose it. My first GI doc did the blood test first so didn't bother to take biopsies during the EGD whereas my 2nd GI did the biopsies first which confirmed Celiac (the damage was extremely visible) and then did the blood test. The blood test is just convenient and less invasive which is why some doctors elect to do it first but an EGD will do a better job of finding the problem. Now since I test negative, I will have to have a repeat EGD every year instead of routine blood work. I hope this helps and you find some answers soon!

phylor said...

You could print out some of the information you've uncovered about leaky gut syndrome and present it to your doctor along with your concerns.
Practice a dialogue in advance, imagining what the dr. might say, and how you will respond.
Have you tried just gluten-free? (my memory is very short, so if you have talked about this already, my apologies). There are lots of gluten-free products (at least in Canada and the US)and websites/blogs that make the diet easier. Gluten-free wasn't the answer to my IBS issues.
There is some literature that suggests foods that are craved can be the culprits in terms of food intolerances.
There is also literature that suggests folks can be "addicted" to sugar, and suffer withdrawal like symptoms when they remove it from their diet.
I've been trying various elimination diets and have yet to hit up the right combo if eliminated foods. I think my problem may be food in general, made worse by food allergies and sensitives.
Good luck with your doctor. I hope they are willing to listen to your findings.

Emily Ruth said...

Thats great to know, more than any doctor has told me so thanks!I'm considering demanding biopsies as the problem is just getting worse. I have a feeling I may be one of the oddballs too. Thanks so much Jamee!

phylor- I think I'll take your advice and do that, may be worth a shot. Yeah I'm trying to figure out how to go about saying it! I've never tried going completely gluten free as there was no need for it but I have tried cutting out the bulk of it many times and have seen slight improvement, so if I cut it out completely, who knows, I might be a new person! I'm at the point where I don't know what diet/ what to try eliminating anymore and because of my worsening symptoms I'm now seeking professional help. Thanks :)

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