Signs and Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
Symptoms of Gluten Allergy or Intolerance
First it was fat free, then juicing, and now it seems gluten free is “the way to be.” Unfortunately, there is a lot of information circulating which is causing a confusion on what the difference is between a celiac disease, a wheat allegy and a non-celiac gluten intolerance. Yes, there is a difference!
For starters, gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley and rye. A sensitivity to protiens found in wheat, gluten included, can range from celiac disease which can cause inflammation, malabsorption of much needed nutrients and severe damage to the small intestine’s lining to a wheat allergy or a non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
While the most common symptom is diarrhea, side effects can range from, depression and anxiety, unexplained weight loss or gain, migraine headaches, fatigue, ADHD, hives etc. The list of possible side effects from a reaction to gluten and wheat are surprising.
What is Celiac Disease and What are the Symptoms?
Celiac disease is the highest level of gluten sensitivity. Your immune system responds negatively to gluten and destroys the villi, small finger-like parts of your small intestine that absorb nutrients, which can lead to malnutrition and to permanent intestinal damage.
Screening consists of a simple blood test that screens for celiac antibodies, with the most common being the tTG-lgA test. Upon screening if your results suggest celiac disease, your doctor will recommend an endoscopic biopsy of your small intestine to confirm the diagnosis.
Currently, the only treatment for celiac disease is a strict adherence to a gluten-free diet. This not only includes food but can involve makeup and commonly used products as well.
Wheat Food Allergy
Did you know that wheat is one of the top 8 food allergens in the US? An allergy to wheat is a reaction to any of the proteins found in wheat which include but is not limited to gluten. It is important to note that symptoms can occur immediately after consumption or can even begin up to two hours later.
Symptoms of a wheat allergy are very like those of celiac disease; diarrhea, nausea, headaches, joint pain and often can be misdiagnosed. A simple skin-prick test administered by your doctor can indicate if you are allergic.
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
Just because you have tested negative to celiac disease and an allergy to wheat does not mean you do not have a gluten sensitivity. There is another option if your symptoms coincide with the intake of gluten. While the exact biological cause is still unknown there are more and more cases of non-celiac gluten sensitivity in adults. Like those with celiac disease and an allergy to wheat, adhering to a gluten free diet has shown to exponentially help sufferers.
Living with Gluten or Wheat Intolerance
While a considerable life change, having an intolerance to gluten or wheat is now not as difficult as it once was. More and more restaurants, products and companies are acknowledging the need to offer gluten and wheat free options.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned, it might be time to see your doctor to rule out the most serious, celiac disease and to help you find a way to relieve your symptoms.