It is estimated that around 15% of the world’s population suffer from gluten intolerance, or gluten allergy. This is the inability to digest a common protein that is found in many grass products. In general, most cases of gluten intolerance are easily treated by dietary means – cutting out products that contain gluten – although a small proportion are associated with celiac disease. In this article we will look at gluten allergy symptoms, the complications associated with the substance, and why it is not the same as wheat allergy. Let’s start by talking about the symptoms associated with gluten intolerance.
There are many symptoms associated with gluten intolerance, and most patients will report some – or all – of the following:
- Bloated stomach, indigestion, diarrhoea or constipation, flatulence
- Chronic fatigue and general lethargy, feeling unwell
- Headaches and memory loss
- Depression and anxiety
- Frequent colds and mouth ulcers
- Arthritis, stiff joints and similar
These all occur because of the effect the gluten allergy has on the bodies many vital systems, and sufferers should seek medical diagnosis if they begin to notice any combination of the above.
What Is Gluten Intolerance?
It is the inability to digest a widespread protein that is present in many grass and grain products. The problem comes about because the gluten protein – one of the biggest in foodstuffs – is difficult for many humans to digest. Put simply, we are not designed to eat grain foodstuffs, and we suffer as a result. In those who are gluten sensitive the problems begin when the body finds it cannot break down the substance properly. Our digestive system is a complex one and any irritation can cause problems. In such people the enzymes created are allowed to roam free and uncontrolled, rather than in a biologically safe manner as in those who do not suffer from gluten intolerance. The result can be damage to the intestine, and the symptoms shown above.
How To Know If the Symptoms You Are Showing Is Caused By Gluten Allergy
As many of the symptoms of gluten intolerance are similar to a number of further illnesses it is essential that anyone who suspects they may suffer seeks medical diagnosis. Do not put of visiting the doctor as there are many tests that can be done to determine whether your problem is gluten allergy or another condition, and the sooner it is diagnosed, the sooner it can be dealt with.
How To Identify Gluten Allergy Symptoms
It is absolutely essential that a full and correct diagnosis is made, by someone who is expert in the field. Many people are susceptible to different food intolerance – dairy, yeast or fructose for instance – and the symptoms can be very similar. It is not a good idea to do nothing – go to the doctor straight away if you suffer from any of the symptoms listed above. Some people, it is worth noting, are intolerant of more than one group.
What You Have To Know About The Different Allergies Symptoms
We cannot stress strongly enough that the symptoms of gluten allergy we have listed can be very similar to other allergic reactions; this is why we repeat that medical diagnosis is very important indeed. Doing nothing may lead to permanent damage to the intestine, when the answer could be a quite simple dietary regime.
Can Gluten Allergy Cause Anxiety?
Yes; put simply, anxiety is something that can be brought about by many different factors, including a poor diet. If you are gluten intolerant and are not aware then your diet is no correct for you. You are not feeding your body the right proteins, and your brain is not functioning correctly as a result. Many sufferers of gluten allergy have reported feelings of anxiety and depression, and it is among the symptoms listed above.
Gluten Allergy And Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is directly related to gluten intolerance and as it is caused by intolerance to the gladins – apart of the gluten content of grass grains – that are also responsible for symptoms of gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is generally a hereditary condition affecting the autoimmune system, and is not thought to be brought about directly by gluten allergy. While symptoms are very much the same, it is important to stress that celiac disease and gluten allergy are not the same thing. However, it should be noted that, in effect, celiac disease is a cause of gluten intolerance.
Are Gluten Problems On The Rise?
There have been suggestions that a perceived increase in gluten problems in patients is down to the introduction of newly developed hybrid crops, but most scientists take this with a pinch of salt. While cases of gluten intolerance are on the rise it is most likely due to a better understanding of the condition and its causes. However, with genetically modified crops being more commonplace it is not possible to completely rule out the influence of newly developed versions of old grain products as a cause.
A Test For Gluten Allergy
If you are showing signs of gluten allergy your doctor will carry out some tests, most probably in the following order:
- Blood tests for signs of gluten allergy
- Allergy tests that can highlight the problem
- Elimination of celiac disease possibility
- Intestinal biopsy
- Elimination diet
While the latter may seem like the first course of action it may cause some problems in individuals who suffer from other conditions, so it is likely to be utilised as a solution rather than as a diagnostic tool.
Get Tested For Celiac Disease First
This is vital advice that simply reiterates what we say above; celiac disease and gluten allergy are caused by similar problems, but are not the same thing. It is essential that anyone displaying the symptoms – which are largely identical in both cases – is tested for celiac disease in the first instance, in order to eliminate it from the possible problems.
How To Interpret Gluten Allergy Test Results?
If you are planning on testing for gluten intolerance at home it is strongly advised you think again: the symptoms can be very similar to celiac disease and to wheat allergy, and mis-diagnosis can lead to complications. A doctor is best placed to know how to correctly interpret gluten allergy test results, and to advise you on the next course of action. Always refer to the professionals if you are showing signs of the symptoms mentioned.
How To Tell the Difference between Wheat Allergy & Gluten Intolerance?
There is an important distinction between wheat allergy and gluten intolerance, and it is vital you know that they are not the same thing. Gluten intolerance is found in 15% of people, and wheat is included among the many grains that can cause the problem: Wheat allergy is a different thing entirely, and is much less common. Wheat allergy symptoms include:
- Rashes and hives
- Nausea and vomiting
It is vital that you seek medical diagnosis if you suspect you suffer from either, as the treatment for each can be quite different.
We hope that in this article we have covered the subject of gluten allergy in some depth and have helped you to understand the causes, symptoms and treatment, and the link to celiac disease. Should you experience any of the symptoms mentioned, please see a doctor for a full diagnosis as soon as possible.