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Started having diarrhoea. On gluten free diet. Is it celiac or gluten sensitivity?

Jan 2013
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Answered by

Internal Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 2003
Answered : 1658 Questions
My daughter started having diarrhea 3 months ago. She has been to doctor several times has been cleared for irritable bowel, bacterial causes. She was then referred to a gastrointeroligist who scoped her upper and lower. The digestive system looked good and normal top to bottom. He also took several biopsies along various portions of the GI Tract. I'm not sure what the biopsies were checking for but he said they all came back normal. The doctors were at a loss of what to do - so on a whim started eating a gluten free diet 1 week ago and is now having normal BM's. My question is - with the given information what would you say was causing 3 months of diarrhea (5 - 12 times per day of a watery consistency) plus she went from 130 lbs to 109. Is it/was it celiac or gluten sensitivity or something else. Thank you.
Posted Fri, 27 Jul 2012 in Digestion and Bowels
Answered by Dr. Mayank Bhargava 1 hour later

Thanks for posting your query.

1) Kindly answer the following detail:
a) Episodes of fever with chills during last three months.
b) Excessive gas formation.
c) Spasmodic abdominal pain
d) Nausea/ vomiting
e) Had she taken full course of antibiotics with no improvement?
f) Had she undergone any blood test/ biopsy of small intestine for confirmation of celiac disease?

2) Improvement after Gluten restriction suggest gluten sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are the same disease.

3) Persisting watery diarrhea suggest some sort of infection, gluten sensitivity, Inflammatory bowel disease (in your case, it is not applicable as endoscopy from lower side is also normal).

4) Some times infection may persist foe months without any improvement. You should avoid milk as milk is difficult to digest in few human beings.

5) Sensitivity to gluten diet cause mucosal changes in small intestine and intestine is not able to absorb nutrients.

Put your query if you have.

Best regards,

Dr. Mayank Bhargava
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Started having diarrhoea. On gluten free diet. Is it celiac or gluten sensitivity? 30 minutes later
no fever or chills
had excess gas and spasmodic pain in stomach and in lower GI. She says it would feel like she had swallowed a bunch of razor blades that were moving through her tract. She had nauseating feeling a lot and vomited some. She took no antibiotics. We are assuming that the gastrointeroligist biopsied for celiac but don't know for sure. He just said that the biopsies came back alright but did not say what he checked for.
Answered by Dr. Mayank Bhargava 46 minutes later

Thanks for sending details.

Your daughter is most likely suffering from acute viral gastroenteritis. Although you daughter responded to gluten restriction but spasmodic pain is unusual in celiac disease.

It is frequent practice to stop gluten if a patient's diarrhea is not responding to medication and persisting for long time.

You should again consult to rule out this ailment.

Best regards,

Dr. Mayank Bhargava
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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