My three main side effects when I get “glutened” are fatigue, bloating, and a change in mood.
First, with fatigue, I struggle with simple, everyday tasks. Sometimes just taking a shower wears me out. Especially when I need to wash my hair or shave. I’ll also get really tired going up and down the stairs. I then struggle with feeling lazy and try to push through these moments of fatigue. In addition to being a symptom of celiac disease, fatigue can also be a symptom of thyroid problems or vitamin deficiencies.
Second, with bloating, I experience the kind of bloat where you either look pregnant or that you’ve gained a considerable amount of weight in a short amount of time. Not only does this make me feel self-conscious, but it’s also just physically uncomfortable. For me, it normally lasts for several days or up to a week at a time.
Third, with a change in mood, I can feel the change about the time the fatigue and bloating hit. All of a sudden, I feel depressed and anxious and this often translates to a sour mood. I try to push through and put on a happy face, but I sometimes struggle to hide it!
So, where do these symptoms come from? When a person with celiac disease consumes gluten, the gluten acts as a poison against the small intestine. The villi of the small intestine, which are finger-like projections, are flattened and therefore can’t absorb nutrients. This causes the digestive process to be disrupted and then you feel miserable. Other common symptoms besides the ones I described above, include: constipation, diarrhea, gas, and joint pain. However, there are hundreds of different symptoms, or you may not experience any symptoms at all!
One thing I’ve found that helps me is to drink plenty of water and try to stay active. A couple of days ago, I was feeling so fatigued and bloated and the last thing I wanted to do was go on a hike with my husband. However, I went and actually ended up feeling so much better! Generally, the more I sit around, the worse I feel. Sometimes, all I want to do is lie down and watch Netflix, but I make myself get up and move.
I know I have to be patient and give myself a few days to feel better. I always try to stay as positive as possible, too, because that helps me push through the pain and discomfort.
“Celiac Problem #82: Those days when you wonder what ‘normal’ feels like – what days without feeling overly tired or sick feel like.” — @CeliacProbs