Information on the causes and symptoms of gluten allergies.
Select a Topic
- What is a Gluten Allergy?
- Symptoms of Gluten Allergy
- Diagnosing Gluten Allergies
- Help for Gluten Allergies
What is a Gluten Allergy?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat that causes negative reactions in some people. Gluten intolerance, also referred to as a gluten allergy, is different from Celiac disease. Those with Celiac disease face life-threatening complications from exposure to gluten, due to a severe autoimmune response. Gluten intolerance is becoming more common in recent times as wheat has undergone genetic changes that have dramatically increased its gluten content. Wheat gluten gives baked goods their texture and elasticity. For some people, this protein is extremely difficult to digest and leads to a variety of symptoms.
Symptoms of Gluten Allergy
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity, also known as gluten allergy, is actually not an allergy at all. There is no release of histamines as with typical allergies. However the body still has a negative reaction to the gluten protein, causing a variety of symptoms. Gluten allergy occurs when the body's immune system reacts to gliadin, a part of the gluten molecule.
Common gluten intolerance symptoms include digestive issues like bloating, abdominal pain, excess gas, chronic constipation or diarrhea. Other frequently reported symptoms include skin rash, joint and muscle pain, fatigue, brain fog, anxiety and depression.
Diagnosing Gluten Allergies
Pinpointing gluten intolerance can be difficult. There is no definitive set of rules for testing for gluten intolerance. Most doctors do recommend those with gluten issues go through celiac disease testing first.
There is a panel of blood tests to check for the presence of Celiac disease. The AGA test looks for anti-gliadin antibodies, produced by the body as defensive response to gluten molecule gliadin. If those tests are inconclusive, then endoscopy and biopsy is the next step to diagnosing Celiac disease.
Those who test negative for Celiac disease can still have gluten intolerance issues. Elimination diets are often prescribed to determine if gluten is the culprit or if symptoms are coming from another source. Those with gluten intolerance are often lactose intolerant as well. An elimination diet involves the removal of all suspect foods for a few weeks. After this, the potential offenders are reintroduced gradually to determine if there is a negative reaction.
Help for Gluten Allergies
Those diagnosed with Celiac must remove all gluten from their diet. However, those with intolerance can sometimes get away with minor exposure. There are digestive enzymes on the market that can assist in the periodic digestion of gluten.