Celiac Kids

Did you know that May is Celiac Awareness Month? (It’s also Allergy Awareness Month so really, it should just be a month of complete awareness in our house). Other than me, who do you know with Celiac Disease? What is one thing that you can learn about Celiac Disease that you didn’t already know?

I’ve been having an amazing month. I’m doing a 30 day yoga challenge and I’m putting my health first. I’ve occasionally put my health first in little bursts, but this is the first time that I’m putting it to the forefront of everything I do. I’m getting stronger – mentally and physically. And I’m educating people about Celiac Disease at the same time.

In the last 2 days, 2 friends have asked me questions about Celiac. The cool thing is that a) I know the answers to the questions that I’m asking and b) They are learning more for the future. Each time someone learns something new about Celiac, they are learning more about their friends, their family potentially, and others around them. Generally, they become more sensitive to those with food restrictions. It’s amazing.

But on to more awareness. I have 2 children. Both are celiacs. Both have completely different stories. You can read Miss A’s story to recap, and I have yet to write Mr Man’s story given his diagnosis is so new (but I will do a post soon as he had his scope on Monday).

So you have a child. And you’re concerned. What are the symptoms of celiac? What do you look for?

Well, know this: If either parent has Celiac disease, there is a greater possibility that your child does. Testing before the age of 4 can often give inconclusive results (In the case of Mr Man, he was tested at 3 and was “normal” so in the range of 7-10 for the antibody test. At 6 he was retested and had a level of over 1200). After 4, the test results should be clear. You may also want to test for the gene. If the gene is not present, you’re likely in the clear (though there could still be some sensitivities). If the gene is present, you want to repeat the test every 2-4 years to make sure the disease hasn’t been triggered.

Let’s talk about symptoms, specifically in children. I’ll use my children as examples but know this: every child is different and likely won’t exhibit the same reactions to a tee. (List taken from Celiac Disease Association)

* Abdominal Distention – Mr Man had this – it’s commonly referred to as “wheat belly” and makes a child look pretty big, despite being malnourished
* Bloating – do your kids toot a lot? Think of how bloated you feel when you’re gassy.
* Bruising Easily – they fall, they bruise. My kids always had/have bruised legs. As do I.
* Constant Unexplained Fatigue – This was apparent with Miss A before diagnosis – she would always want to be up and sleeping from fatigue. Mr Man can’t seem to sleep period. He’s always exhausted.
* Constipation – This was an issue with Miss A – she was a great pooper until about 14 months or so and then she would literally sit there and cry. I’d have to hold her hand and sometimes even hug her. Mr Man is pretty regular, but his poops aren’t exactly normal.
Diarrhea or Runny Stools
Failure to Thrive – Miss A was actual labelled Failure to Thrive. She was suffering from extreme protein deficiency from lack of absorption of any nutrients.
Foul-Smelling Stools or Fatty, Floating Stools – Need to double flush or turn the fan on for your kids?
Frequent Headaches or Migraines – While this is something I suffer from, neither of my kids appear to
Frequent, Loud Stomach Rumbling or GrowlingGas or Stomach Cramping – Mr Man has horrible gas and often complains that his tummy hurts, especially at night.
Grayish Stools – We went through this with Mr Man when he was about 3-4 but he stopped having grey stools after age 4.
Heartburn
Joint Pain
Pallor (unhealthy pale appearance) – Miss A is still pale, but when she was at her sickest, she was almost see-through. Mr Man is always pale with dark circles under his eyes.
Panic Attacks – My boy suffers from these.
Stomach or Intestinal Pain – see Gas or Stomach Cramping
* Tingling or Numbness in Extremities
Unexplained or Unusual Muscle WeaknessUnexplained Skin LesionsWeight Loss – Mr Man has lost a couple of pounds, Miss A just stopped gaining altogether.
Something that isn’t in this list that is also a big symptom is personality changes. Constant irritability, anger, trouble concentrating, anxiety; these are all symptoms in children. Think about it – they don’t feel good, they’re not getting their proper nutrients, so they are cranky. Wouldn’t you be cranky if you felt terrible All. The. Time?

The list is long, and sometimes unless you see the list all at once, it’s hard to pinpoint the issue which is why Celiac is so under-diagnosed, especially in children. A blood test will lead you down the celiac road if that’s where you need to go. Don’t let your children suffer. It’s hard for sure. But with your support and help, they’ll get through it.

Feel free to ask me anything if you have questions.

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