Celiac disease was behind a buildup of calcium discovered in a young man’s brain, which led to 10 years of recurring migraines and vision problems, according to a Brazilian case report published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The 24-year-old man came to the doctors with a history of migraines and visual issues stemming back a decade. The man had been treated for migraine, but to no avail. He was given a routine blood test, which showed mildly lower levels of folate than he should have had.
A CT scan then showed the calcium “stones” or buildup towards the rear of his skull.
The first tip-off that celiac disease could be a factor in the man’s strange symptoms came after doctors tested his cerebrospinal fluid, which surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The man’s fluid was normal, except it contained elevated levels of antibodies associated with celiac disease. An endoscopy revealed he had damaged villi in his intestines and other signs of celiac disease.
For treatment, the man was placed on the gluten-free diet, given a folic acid supplement and prescribed medication for epilepsy (his vision abnormalities were caused by seizure). His condition immediately began to improve, and all symptoms went into remission.
“The combination of celiac disease, epilepsy, and cerebral calcification is a rare condition known as the CEC syndrome,” note the authors of the case report, Dr. Rubens Cury and Dr. Camila Moreira of the University of Sao Paulo. CEC was first discovered in 1992 and fewer than 200 cases have been reported since then.
Your Brain on Gluten