I’ve heard a number of people recently talking about a “celiac flare”. What is it? Why is in important? What does it mean?
A “celiac flare” does not exist. A celiac flare assumes that the sufferer had no influence or control over the episode, like someone when their Crohn’s or colitis flares. They don’t know what causes it, but sometimes people with Crohn’s or colitis are simply sicker than other times. A celiac flare means that gluten was consumed. Intentionally or unintentionally gluten was consumed via the mouth, through the stomach, into the small intestine leading to the tell tale symptoms of being glutened.
My concern with this terminology is that someone put food in their mouth and made themselves sick. Maybe they ate gluten on purpose – I hope not, don’t ever do this. Or maybe they got sick from taking a risk – eating someplace that may or may not have great cross contamination protocols in place. Or maybe they just got sick – which has nothing to do with gluten, but they really are getting sick and mix it up with getting glutened. However, the part I want to stress is that getting glutened is something that is active. Intentional or unintentional eventually most of us will unwittingly consume gluten.
We are not passive riders on this celiac train, but have to be proactive in protecting our health. We have to vigilantly protect ourselves from accidentally ingesting gluten at every turn. Every bit of food or drink must be scrutinized and evaluated for its potential to make us sick. Every time someone offers us some food we must decide, will this make me sick or is it okay. Celiac requires active participation so the idea of a celiac flare happening to us just makes my blood boil.
I know we all get glutened. If you don’t or haven’t recently, you are awesome and should not read further. If you have been glutened, I don’t have any magic cures to get better. My only advice is to manage the symptoms to the best of your ability, eat a bland diet, get lots of rest, and consume lots of fluids. Gluten will pass through your digestive system in 24-48 hours, but the immune cascade may continue to wreak havoc for several more days. I’m sorry it happened to you. And while it happened to you, it isn’t your fault. Don’t call it a celiac flare. Call it a celiac attack. Nope, that rhymes, but still sounds not right. Getting glutened sounds great.
As a side note, here is a topic people don’t talk about much though, a celiac crisis. A celiac crisis is a real thing. A celiac crisis is when people with undiagnosed celiac disease appear at the emergency room with profuse diarrhea, metabolic disturbances, and electrolyte imbalances. Typically these patients are hospitalized, given fluids, and feeding tube to return the body to a more normal state. This is why getting a diagnosis is important. Also, this is very rare in adults but can happen to children.
Anyway, I’m hoping to get back to some research articles today!