Gluten refers to the proteins that are found in wheat, barley, rye, and other grains. For some people, ingesting gluten can cause damage to the lining of their small intestine, preventing the absorption of essential nutrients. This condition that causes an abnormal immune reaction to gluten is called celiac disease, a condition from which approximately 1% of the American population suffers. For others, though, celiac disease may not be the cause of their discomfort after eating foods containing gluten.
If you are experiencing symptoms associated with a gluten sensitivity, there are a few different medical conditions that could be at the root of what’s happening to cause your uncomfortable symptoms. A physician at Digestive Care Physicians or your local gastroenterologist may want to rule out causes that include a wheat allergy, celiac disease, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, also known as being gluten intolerant.
Gluten is in the most common grain we eat: wheat. This grain is usually used to produce bread, pasta, and cereals. It is also often used in soups, salad dressings, and other foods not generally thought of as containing grains. Rye, which also contains gluten, is found in breads, beer and some cereals.
Wheat Allergy and Celiac Disease
Wheat allergy symptoms generally become evident within minutes of eating a food containing this ingredient. As with most food allergies, those symptoms can be anywhere between mild nasal congestion to life-threatening anaphylaxis. It’s very important to be diagnosed correctly for this allergy, as some of the symptoms can be similar to those related to celiac disease.
Within an adult, the autoimmune disorder known as celiac disease can cause symptoms such as fatigue, anemia, headaches, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, joint pain, depression, and anxiety. Children with this condition will experience more of the digestive symptoms, including pain, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and vomiting. Their growth and development will be negatively affected if the disease isn’t diagnosed and treated.
Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
If you are gluten intolerant, your symptoms may closely mimic those of celiac disease. You may not be allergic to wheat or have celiac disease, but rather suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity. There is no specific test for determining if you are gluten intolerant. Your physician will first rule out the other two conditions by asking you to keep a food journal, listening to your medical history, and administering certain tests to rule out causes of allergy or celiac disease.
Some of the symptoms associated with being gluten intolerant include:
- Mental fatigue
- Physical fatigue
- Abdominal gas, bloating, and pain
These signs are quite similar to some of the symptoms of celiac disease, which is why definitive testing is important in diagnosing your condition. If you are diagnosed with a gluten intolerant condition, you may be advised to adhere to a gluten-free diet. This diet can vary depending upon the severity of your symptoms and your tolerance level for gluten.
If you are concerned about your symptoms as they relate to gluten, or are having any other digestive issues, the professionals at Digestive Care Physicians are prepared to assist you. We have four physicians and a physician’s assistant on staff and are available at four different locations that include Johns Creek, Alpharetta, Cumming, and Lawrenceville. We serve patients from the surrounding areas of Roswell, Milton, Duluth, Canton, Suwanee, Sandy Springs, Marietta, and beyond.
This article is not meant to take the place of professional medical advice. Please call the friendly staff at Digestive Care Physicians to make an appointment if you have any concerns.
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