I thought I was brilliant. I had found the solution to this Covid-19 and celiac disease all in one super awesome brain storm. Needless to say, I was wrong. But this is how my process of finding stuff and thinking about stuff goes. I thought I’d give you a little insight into my thinking and where things go wrong for me sometimes.
In reading about Covid-19, the people that are dying have what is called a cytokine storm. It is basically where your immune system has gone gone haywire and the damage inflicted is too much for the body. It is kind of like a runaway train – there is no way to stop it and you will die when it is over. Now, when a person with celiac disease consumes gluten, their cytokines rise. The cytokine rise is what causes symptoms and typically the cytokine reaction is proportional to the severity of symptoms.
Also, just so you know, there is something called a celiac crisis. This doesn’t appear to be the same as a cytokine storm – which I thought it would be. A celiac crisis seems to be where someone has signs of severe dehydration, neurologic dysfunction, kidney failure, too little protein in their blood, and a greater than 10lb weight loss quickly. This is a life threatening emergency but is very rare. Also, it seems that the incidence of celiac crises have tapered off in more recent years.
I also found this article talking about a doctor going through a cytokine storm in the middle of his hospital stay for Covid-19. This is how he described it, “I […] realized the persistence of headaches, nausea, abdominal distention, profound muscle and bone pains, along with my difficulty breathing, might actually qualify me as [some]one who is struggling with cytokine storm.”
Besides the difficulty breathing, which maybe specific to Covid-19, I thought about my symptoms. The headaches, nausea, bloating, and muscle and bone pain sounds a lot like my confirmed glutening symptoms. Please know that I’ve done gluten challenges with known gluten more than once and know for a fact when I’ve been glutened and what that looks like. But damn, that seems awfully close to my symptoms.
The question this all brings up is – why does the immune reaction stop in celiac but keeps raging in this Covid-19? Why do some experience the cytokine storm and others don’t?
Now, in my mind, if they can solve the problem of the cytokine storm, maybe they can solve the celiac problem. Maybe, but we are talking about a big difference between our overactive immune system and an overreaction that can kill someone. The article I mention above doesn’t talk about them giving him any medicine to stop the cytokine storm, but maybe they did.
This is where I hit the brick wall in my flirtation with brilliance. I’m not sure if there is a medicine to stop a cytokine storm or how they manage it in the hospital other than supportive care. I found an article from March 2020 from the Lancet regarding supportive care for a cytokine storm. They recommend, “Therapeutic options include steroids, intravenous immunoglobulin, selective cytokine blockade (eg, anakinra or tocilizumab) and JAK inhibition.” Maybe its time for drug companies to look at selective cytokine blockages and JAK inhibition in celiac research.
But, what the heck do I know? I’m just a girl writing a blog on the internet. That might really be a stretch and not realistic, but someone that is much smarter than me ought to take a look at it. I’m sure there are reasons it won’t work that I don’t understand and maybe someone has already looked at it. But it couldn’t hurt to take a second look. However, if someone takes this idea and runs with it, I’d like a cut of the profits. 😉
I’m just ranting and raving about what I have seen and read and thought about. Maybe this Covid-19 will be a boon for celiac and other autoimmune disease research. I think though, we will have to wait until the crisis is over or at least contained before we find any information about how this might help celiac disease. I dunno.
Maybe you all have had similar random thoughts about Covid-19 and celiac disease. I cannot be the only one thinking about how this might affect us one day.
The bottom line is that you should wash your hands, wear a mask in public, practice social distancing, and listen to your local public health officials for the latest information. Stay safe out there.