When an adolescent girl suffering from headaches and blurred vision seeks medical care, doctors may not immediately think of celiac disease as a cause — but the immune disorder should be a consideration. A pediatrician specializing in gastroenterology at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital explains why in an article published this summer in the journal Case Reports in Gastroenterology.
Mirza Beg, MD, writes about a girl who suffered neurological symptoms for a year until the headaches and blurry vision worsened and she sought emergency treatment. She had developed “pseudotumor cerebri,” a condition in which the pressure inside her skull increased for no obvious reason, causing symptoms that mimic those of a brain tumor.
She underwent a series of medical tests that eventually included a biopsy of her small intestine. After she was diagnosed with celiac disease and began following a gluten-free diet, the girl’s headaches and blurry vision went away. So did the pressure inside her skull.
Celiac disease is a challenge to diagnose, Beg acknowledges. Though its hallmark is a gastrointestinal tract that is sensitive to gluten, celiac disease can also cause psychiatric symptoms and affect the skin and reproductive organs, in addition to causing headaches, blurry vision and – in rare instances – fake brain tumors.
This article appears in the fall 2015 issue of Upstate Health magazine.