While many people get headaches from time to time, one man from Brazil suffered a 10-year run of headaches related to hidden celiac disease.
When doctors tried treating the man for migraines without success, they realized the problem had to lie somewhere else.
According to the case report in the New England Journal of Medicine, the doctors performed lab tests and a CT scan, revealing calcified deposits in the man’s head.
They also found that his brain fluid had higher levels of IgA antibodies in it, a signal for the autoimmune condition celiac disease.
According to the Celiac Foundation, celiac disease affects 1 in every 100 people globally. Those with the condition must refrain from eating gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
If exposed to gluten, the person’s immune system attacks the lining of the small intestine, leading to malabsorption of nutrients.
In addition, the authors wrote that the man’s brain stones may have resulted from his inability to absorb iron. That’s because calcified stones have also formed with other conditions involving iron deficiency.
In this case, the man experienced a rare condition that also included seizures and brain stones. His symptoms resolved after eating a gluten-free diet, supplementing with iron and taking a drug for epilepsy.