The question comes up often in emails from patients. How does one know if the symptoms I am experiencing is from GDD or from another disease? The reality is, that most patients who get an MRI have some process ongoing which has brought them to getting an MRI. Hence there is a high likelihood of an pre-existent disease process. A number of these diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), can have very similar symptoms. Then what to do?
The first thing to realize is that you can have two (or more) diseases going on at the same time: GDD and MS, or GDD and Lyme disease (one may predispose to the other actually), GDD and rheumatoid arthritis. Sometimes, maybe often you can tell them apart as GDD symptoms came on after receiving the GBCA injection and because of the symptoms (read my blogs on symptoms of GDD).
Sometimes you don't know, what is what, then what do you do?
My recommendation is you can always treat both, and need to make sure the treatments don't complicate each other disease. Sometimes the treatments for another disease may be beneficial for GDD. For example, treatment of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn's disease use autoimmune biologic drugs like Humira and Cosentix. These drugs actually may be the ideal drugs to treat GDD, and the bonus here is that for these autoimmune diseases, insurance companies should cover the expense of these drugs. Currently they won't do this for GDD. In fact if you have GDD and are receiving these drugs to treat a pre-existent or concurrent autoimmune disease with these biologic agents, I want to hear from you.
The more unique treatment for GDD is chelation with DTPA, but this should not complicate any other treatment (although it will chelate metals and cations) and will be beneficial for other diseases that you may be unaware of such as lead, mercury or arsenic poisoning. See my blog on stability constants for chelators: DTPA is the best chelator for all these other heavy metals. Hopefully members of the EPA are reading this too. If you have GDD and Lyme, then DTPA chelation for GDD and doxycycline (or other agents) for Lyme, and so on.
An indirect evidence that GDD may be part of the entire picture of your illness is by obtaining pre- and post- Ca-DTPA 24 hr urine for Gd (and other heavy metals). If they are high (or even normal) in the native state, and increase dramatically post provocation with Ca-DTPA, there is a good chance that GDD is part of your disease picture. If you have a Flare reaction, as unpleasant as that can be, that is virtually diagnostic for GDD. Compared to virtually everything else we do in health-care, chelation is relatively innocuous, and may get rid of other heavy metals you were not aware of.
GDD can co-exist with other diseases. Treat both. If unsure if GDD is part of the picture, try provocative urine testing with Ca-DTPA.