Sometimes, though, you need to be asking the questions. To celebrate the upcoming National Drug Facts Week (January 26th -February 1), the American Recall Center inspired me to write about the questions a celiac should ask their doctor or pharmacist. Now, let's dig into that fine print...
Many of you have been following my celiac journey nearly since diagnosis. I've experienced all of the regular - and many of the unique - doctors visits that accompany celiac disease, including, but not limited to:
A meeting with a nutritionist to map out my gluten-free plan of attack. Loads of check ups with my gastroenterologist. Bone density scans, endoscopy and colonoscopy adventures, and even days in the hospital hooked up to an IV and NG tube.
My first piece of advice? Have a conversation with your doctor about celiac disease! On gluten free Facebook groups, I've heard horror stories about uneducated medical professionals (and even survived a similar experience with an allergist). I was lucky enough to be treated by a staff of experts on celiac disease and digestive diseases in adolescents, but it's up to every patient to advocate for their health.
Similar to doctors visits, I've also experienced (under medical orders) a variety of medicines to help treat my celiac disease. When I was extremely underweight and malnourished, my pill box overflowed with zinc, potassium, calcium, and vitamin XYZ tablets to kick start my body's healing.
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And, even though I'm in remission, I still believe it's important to supplement vitamins that tend to evade those with celiac. Of course, I'm no medical expert - just a writing major halfway through college - so always consult your doctor before making any major changes.
Today, calcium chewies (because my stomach still has dairy on the Most Wanted List for abdominal pain), zinc and fish oil supplements are part of my regular morning routine. To prevent bloating and acid, I also depend on a daily probiotic.
The newest pill I've romanced? Charcoal tablets! After reading celiacs' love letters to the pills from all over the web, I ordered a bottle for when gluten manages to invade my plate. After bloating attacked during the Christmas break, though, I tried adding these to my pre-breakfast ritual. And, while my tummy isn't always bathing suit ready, I don't look like I should be picking out baby clothes anymore!
But what's the ultimate horror movie for a celiac? Finding out the medicine supposed to heal you is actually laced with gluten! I've been lucky in that my doctor knows to check prescriptions for gluten, but I was reminded of the importance a few weeks ago. When I'm glutened, I tend to eat Tums and Gaviscon like breath mints. Imagine my terror when I check my off-label bottle and didn't see a certified gluten free sticker!
It can be a pain in the butt - or the wallet, in the case of my Tums and Gaviscon needs - to always check for gluten in medicines. I certainly toyed with sticking with the cheaper off-brand anti acid tablets - they weren't certified, but my online research didn't reveal any gluten either. In the end, though, you are in charge of your health. And if you don't take gluten free seriously in your medication, how can you expect your doctor or pharmacist to?
The main goal of National Drug Facts Week is to disprove any dangerous medical myths floating around cyberspace. With this post, though, I hope to improve every celiac's experience with medications. That's the my kind of medicine.
What is your experience with doctors and celiac disease? With medications? Comment below!