I’ve always considered myself gluten intolerant and like many in this camp, I diagnosed myself.
We self-diagnosers are the recipients of lots of finger wagging from well-meaning health professionals. According to current wisdom, if you suspect gluten is a problem for you, don’t give up the grain off your own bat. Instead approach your GP and ask to be tested for coeliac disease.
Of course this is great advice given the potential health risks, and with the benefit of hindsight, I wish I’d done this. But for many of us it’s just hasn’t been that simple. In my case, it wasn’t my gut that was bugging me. I suddenly developed a really itchy rash on my hands back in 2002. Then, a few years later, I stumbled upon the cure while doing an elimination diet with my son.
At the time, no GP – and I’d been to see a few – had ever suggested to me that diet might be the cause of this rash. Instead I’d been prescribed steroid creams, which had no effect. Even when I did mention my cure to my GP, she looked dubious and certainly didn’t suggest a coeliac test.
So I’ve always assumed my gluten-triggered rash (which apparently has a name: dermatitis herpetiformis) was unrelated to the much more serious coeliac disease.
Then I got chatting to a doctor in a social situation recently and I told her about my amazing cure and she suggested I have a test. I was taken aback. In fact I suffered a minor identity crisis – was I actually an undiagnosed coeliac sufferer after all?
I decided to do a little Googling on dermatitis herpetiformis and discovered a few very small but interesting studies, the findings of which have surprised me:
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