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Unveiling Celiac Disease: Understanding, Managing, and Thriving

Unveiling Celiac Disease: Understanding, Managing, and Thriving

 

Introduction

 

Celiac disease, a prevalent autoimmune disorder, affects millions of individuals worldwide, yet it remains widely misunderstood.

This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on celiac disease by exploring its intricacies—from its underlying causes and diagnostic methods to its management strategies and impact on daily life.

By unraveling the mysteries of celiac disease, we empower individuals to navigate this condition with knowledge, resilience, and confidence.

 

Understanding Celiac Disease

 

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition characterized by an abnormal immune response to gluten—a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and their derivatives.

When individuals with celiac disease consume gluten-containing foods, their immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of the small intestine, leading to inflammation and damage to the intestinal villi—small finger-like projections responsible for nutrient absorption.

This immune-mediated response can cause a wide range of gastrointestinal and systemic symptoms and may result in long-term complications if left untreated.

ceeliac disease causes - Unveiling Celiac Disease: Understanding, Managing, and Thriving

Causes of Celiac Disease

 

The precise cause of celiac disease is multifactorial, involving a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and immunological factors. Key contributors to the development of celiac disease include:

  1. Genetic predisposition: Celiac disease has a strong genetic component, with specific human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes—particularly HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8—playing a significant role in susceptibility. Individuals with certain genetic markers are more likely to develop celiac disease when exposed to gluten.

     

  2. Environmental triggers: While genetic predisposition sets the stage for celiac disease, environmental factors such as gluten consumption and early childhood infections may act as triggers. Gluten exposure, particularly during infancy and early childhood, is considered a primary environmental trigger for celiac disease development.

     

  3. Immunological dysregulation: In individuals with celiac disease, gluten consumption triggers an aberrant immune response, leading to the production of autoantibodies and inflammation within the small intestine. This immune-mediated process damages the intestinal lining and impairs nutrient absorption, contributing to the characteristic symptoms of celiac disease.

celiac disease symptoms - Unveiling Celiac Disease: Understanding, Managing, and Thriving

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Celiac disease can manifest with a wide range of symptoms affecting the gastrointestinal tract, as well as other organ systems. Common symptoms of celiac disease may include:

– Gastrointestinal symptoms: Abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and flatulence are common gastrointestinal manifestations of celiac disease. These symptoms result from inflammation and damage to the intestinal lining, leading to impaired digestion and nutrient absorption.

– Systemic symptoms: Celiac disease can also cause systemic symptoms affecting other parts of the body. These may include fatigue, weakness, weight loss, anemia, osteoporosis, dermatitis herpetiformis (a chronic skin rash), and neurological symptoms such as headaches, peripheral neuropathy, or depression.

– Asymptomatic presentation: Some individuals with celiac disease may experience minimal or no symptoms, a condition known as “silent celiac disease.” Despite the absence of overt symptoms, these individuals may still experience intestinal damage and long-term complications if left untreated.

 

Diagnosis of Celiac Disease

 

Diagnosing celiac disease involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, serological tests, and confirmatory procedures. Healthcare providers may consider the following steps in the diagnostic process:

 

  1. Medical history and physical examination: Healthcare providers may inquire about symptoms, dietary habits, family history, and previous medical conditions to assess the likelihood of celiac disease. Physical examination may reveal signs of malnutrition, such as weight loss, stunted growth (in children), or dermatological manifestations.

     

  2. Serological tests: Blood tests for celiac-specific antibodies, including anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies (tTG-IgA), anti-endomysial antibodies (EMA-IgA), and anti-deamidated gliadin peptide antibodies (DGP-IgA and DGP-IgG), are commonly used as initial screening tests for celiac disease. Elevated levels of these antibodies indicate an immune response to gluten and may prompt further evaluation.

     

  3. Upper endoscopy with biopsy: If serological tests suggest celiac disease, confirmation may be obtained through an upper endoscopy with biopsy. During this procedure, a gastroenterologist examines the lining of the small intestine using a flexible, lighted tube (endoscope) and collects tissue samples (biopsies) for histological examination. Characteristic findings of celiac disease on biopsy include villous atrophy, crypt hyperplasia, and lymphocytic infiltration of the intestinal mucosa.

Schneider 3 - Unveiling Celiac Disease: Understanding, Managing, and Thriving

Management of Celiac Disease

 

The management of celiac disease centers on adopting a strict gluten-free diet, addressing nutritional deficiencies, managing symptoms, and preventing long-term complications.

Key components of celiac disease management include:

 

  1. Gluten-free diet: The cornerstone of celiac disease management is eliminating gluten from the diet. Individuals with celiac disease must avoid all foods and products containing wheat, barley, rye, and their derivatives. This includes bread, pasta, cereal, baked goods, sauces, condiments, and processed foods. Reading food labels, scrutinizing ingredient lists, and being vigilant about cross-contamination are essential for preventing gluten exposure.

     

  2. Nutritional supplementation: Addressing nutritional deficiencies, such as iron, vitamin B12, folate, calcium, and vitamin D, is crucial for individuals with celiac disease. Healthcare providers may recommend oral supplements or intravenous therapy to replenish depleted nutrient stores and promote optimal health.

     

  3. Symptom management: Medications may be prescribed to alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms, such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for acid reflux, anti-diarrheal agents for diarrhea, or corticosteroids for severe inflammation. Dermatitis herpetiformis may be treated with medications such as dapsone to control skin rash and itching.

     

  4. Ongoing monitoring: Regular follow-up appointments with healthcare providers, including gastroenterologists, dietitians, and other specialists, are essential for monitoring disease activity, assessing nutritional status, and addressing any complications or concerns. Periodic blood tests and repeat biopsies may be recommended to evaluate treatment response and disease progression. 

 

Living with Celiac Disease

 

Managing celiac disease requires ongoing commitment, education, and support.

Individuals with celiac disease must learn to navigate various aspects of daily life, including social situations, dining out, travel, and food preparation, to avoid gluten exposure and maintain their health and well-being.

Joining support groups, connecting with others living with celiac disease, and accessing reputable online resources can provide valuable guidance, encouragement, and practical tips for living a fulfilling gluten-free lifestyle.

 

Conclusion

 

Celiac disease is a complex autoimmune condition with significant implications for affected individuals’ health and quality of life.

By understanding the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and management strategies for celiac disease, individuals can take proactive steps to manage their condition effectively, optimize their nutritional health, and minimize the impact of celiac-related complications.

With proper education, support, and adherence to a strict gluten-free diet, individuals with celiac disease can lead fulfilling lives and enjoy improved overall well-being.

celiac disease infographic - Unveiling Celiac Disease: Understanding, Managing, and Thriving

 

Contact Dr. Schneider

Dr. Schneider, a distinguished gastroenterologist with a wealth of experience in digestive health, is well-equipped to provide personalized guidance tailored to individual needs.

With a commitment to patient education and well-being, Dr. Schneider ensures that individuals are informed about the procedure, addressing any concerns and emphasizing the significance of regular screenings for early detection.

Talk to us today to book your appointment.

For further reading on the procedures we perform, please visit our website or contact Dr. Schneider on 011-482-3010. 

DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.

Gluten Intolerance: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Management

Gluten Intolerance: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Management

Introduction

 

In recent years, the term “gluten-free” has become ubiquitous in the world of nutrition and dietary choices.

Many individuals opt for gluten-free products, whether due to a diagnosed condition or perceived health benefits.

Among those with genuine medical reasons to avoid gluten, a condition called gluten intolerance, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), has gained recognition.

In this comprehensive guide, we will dive deep into the realm of gluten intolerance, exploring its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and management.

 

Understanding Gluten: The Culprit Behind Gluten Intolerance

 

Gluten is a complex protein composite found in wheat, barley, rye, and their derivatives.

It plays a vital role in the texture and structure of many foods, making it a common ingredient in various products like bread, pasta, cereal, and baked goods.

For the majority of people, gluten is harmless and a regular part of their diet.

However, for those with gluten intolerance, consuming gluten can trigger a range of unpleasant symptoms and health issues.

gluten foods - Gluten Intolerance: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Management


Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance

Gluten intolerance manifests with a variety of symptoms, primarily affecting the digestive system, although it can extend to other areas of health.

These symptoms often appear after the consumption of gluten-containing foods and may include:

  1. Digestive Distress: Abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and discomfort are common complaints. Diarrhea or constipation may also occur.
  2. Fatigue: Many individuals with gluten intolerance experience unexplained fatigue or lethargy.
  3. Headaches: Recurrent headaches, including migraines, are a frequent symptom.
  4. Joint and Muscle Pain: Some people report joint and muscle pain, which may improve with a gluten-free diet.
  5. Brain Fog: Cognitive symptoms like brain fog, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems may arise.
  6. Mood Disturbances: Mood swings, anxiety, and depression have been reported in some individuals.
  7. Skin Issues: Skin problems such as eczema or a persistent rash called dermatitis herpetiformis can be associated with gluten intolerance.
  8. Nerve and Neurological Symptoms: In rare cases, gluten intolerance can lead to nerve-related symptoms, like tingling or numbness in the extremities.

It’s important to note that these symptoms can vary in severity and may overlap with those of other conditions, making the diagnosis of gluten intolerance a complex process.

Additionally, the onset of symptoms can be delayed, occurring hours or even days after consuming gluten.

 gluten intolerance symptoms - Gluten Intolerance: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Management


Causes of Gluten Intolerance

The exact cause of gluten intolerance is not fully understood, but several factors may contribute to its development:

  1. Immune System Response: Although it’s not an autoimmune condition like celiac disease, gluten intolerance involves an abnormal immune response to gluten. This response can trigger inflammation and symptoms.
  2. Genetics: There is evidence to suggest a genetic component to gluten intolerance. Some individuals may be genetically predisposed to develop NCGS.
  3. Gut Microbiota: Alterations in the gut microbiota, the community of microorganisms residing in the digestive tract, may play a role in gluten intolerance.
  4. FODMAPs: Some experts speculate that certain carbohydrates known as FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) found in wheat may contribute to symptoms in some individuals.
  5. Leaky Gut: Some theories propose that gluten intolerance may be associated with increased intestinal permeability, often referred to as “leaky gut.”

Diagnosis: The Challenge of Identifying Gluten Intolerance

Diagnosing gluten intolerance can be complex, as it requires ruling out other conditions that may share similar symptoms.

The process often involves the following steps:

  1. Medical Evaluation: A thorough medical evaluation is the starting point, where the healthcare provider collects information about the patient’s symptoms, medical history, and family history of related conditions.
  2. Exclusion of Celiac Disease: Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten consumption, shares some symptoms with gluten intolerance. Healthcare providers often begin by testing for celiac disease, which typically includes blood tests to detect specific antibodies (such as anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies) and, if indicated, an upper endoscopy with biopsy to assess for small intestine damage.
  3. Exclusion of Wheat Allergy: Wheat allergy, a distinct condition involving an allergic reaction to proteins in wheat, is ruled out through specific allergy testing.
  4. Gluten Challenge: In some cases, individuals may be asked to undergo a “gluten challenge.” This involves a period of consuming gluten-containing foods under medical supervision to see if symptoms develop or worsen.
  5. Resolution of Symptoms on a Gluten-Free Diet: The most convincing confirmation of gluten intolerance often comes from symptom resolution on a gluten-free diet. If symptoms improve while avoiding gluten and return when gluten is reintroduced, gluten intolerance is considered likely.

It requires careful consideration of the patient’s medical history, symptoms, and response to dietary changes.

gluten intolerance foods to eat - Gluten Intolerance: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Management


Management of Gluten Intolerance: Embracing a Gluten-Free Lifestyle

Once diagnosed, the primary and most effective means of managing gluten intolerance is adopting a gluten-free lifestyle.

This involves eliminating gluten-containing foods from the diet and making informed choices to prevent inadvertent exposure.

Here are key considerations and strategies for successfully living gluten-free:

1. Eliminating Gluten from Your Diet

The foundation of managing gluten intolerance is to avoid foods that contain gluten. This includes:

  • Wheat-Based Products: This encompasses bread, pasta, cereal, and many baked goods.
  • Barley and Rye: These grains and their derivatives are also sources of gluten.
  • Processed Foods: Gluten can hide in many processed foods and sauces, so it’s crucial to read labels carefully.
  • Cross-Contamination: Be aware of cross-contamination, which can occur in shared kitchen equipment and utensils. Use separate cooking utensils, cutting boards, and cooking surfaces to prevent cross-contact.

2. Embracing Gluten-Free Alternatives

Fortunately, there is a wide array of gluten-free alternatives available for those with gluten intolerance. These include:

  • Gluten-Free Grains: Rice, quinoa, corn, and oats (labeled as gluten-free) can be used as substitutes for gluten-containing grains.
  • Gluten-Free Flours: Almond flour, coconut flour, and various gluten-free flour blends can be used in baking.
  • Gluten-Free Products: Many stores offer a wide range of gluten-free bread, pasta, and snacks.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free and should be a central part of your diet.

3. Dining Out and Social Situations

Eating out can be challenging for individuals with gluten intolerance, but it’s possible with some precautions:

  • Check Menus: Look for restaurants that offer gluten-free options or have staff knowledgeable about accommodating dietary restrictions.
  • Communicate Clearly: When dining out, communicate your dietary needs clearly to the waitstaff and ask questions about food preparation.
  • Be Cautious with Cross-Contamination: Cross-contamination can occur in restaurant kitchens. Consider dining at dedicated gluten-free restaurants or those with a strong understanding of gluten-free practices.


4. Educating Yourself and Others

Education is a crucial aspect of managing gluten intolerance. It’s important to:

  • Learn to Read Labels: Familiarize yourself with ingredients that contain gluten and learn how to read food labels effectively.
  • Inform Friends and Family: Help your friends and family understand your dietary needs to ensure they can accommodate your requirements when cooking or hosting gatherings.


5. Monitoring Your Health

Regularly monitoring your health and discussing any concerns with your healthcare provider is essential. This includes addressing any nutrient deficiencies that may develop due to dietary restrictions.

6. Seek Support and Resources

Joining support groups and seeking resources related to gluten intolerance can be immensely helpful. These communities often provide valuable advice, recipes, and emotional support.

The Gluten-Free Journey: A Personal Experience

Adopting a gluten-free lifestyle can be challenging, especially in the beginning, but it’s important to remember that it’s a journey toward better health and well-being.

With time and experience, managing gluten intolerance becomes more intuitive, and you’ll discover a wide array of delicious gluten-free foods and recipes to enjoy.

Living gluten-free is not just about eliminating gluten from your diet; it’s about embracing a healthier way of eating and taking charge of your well-being.

By understanding your body’s needs and making informed dietary choices, you can lead a fulfilling and symptom-free life with gluten intolerance.

Light blue and blue illustrated how to make Infographic 2 1 - Gluten Intolerance: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Management


Conclusion

 

In the world of dietary restrictions, gluten intolerance is a condition that requires careful attention and management. It may not be as widely understood as celiac disease or wheat allergy, but for those who experience its symptoms, it’s a very real and often life-altering condition.

Recognizing the symptoms of gluten intolerance, understanding its potential causes, and navigating the diagnostic process are essential steps toward effective management.

Once diagnosed, adopting a gluten-free lifestyle becomes the cornerstone of managing this condition.

The gluten-free journey is a personal one, and it may take time to adapt fully. However, with patience, perseverance, and the right resources, individuals with gluten intolerance can lead fulfilling lives while effectively managing their condition.

Understanding gluten intolerance empowers individuals to make informed choices about their health and nutrition, ultimately leading to a healthier and more symptom-free life.

Dr. Schneider is located at the Mill Park Hospital, Parktown, Johannesburg.

Services offered include consultation, and endoscopy procedures, including gastroscopy, colonoscopy and video capsule endoscopy.

For more information on the diagnosis and treatment of gluten intolerance in Johannesburg, contact Dr. Schneider or book your consultation today.

DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.

Celiac Disease: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Diet and Treatment

Celiac Disease: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Diet and Treatment

 

Introduction


Celiac disease is a disorder of the digestive system that occurs when the body is unable to break down and absorb gluten.

When people with celiac disease eat gluten, the gluten triggers an immune response in the body that damages the lining of the small intestine.

This damage prevents the small intestine from being able to absorb nutrients from food, which can lead to malnutrition.

Celiac disease is a serious condition that can cause a wide range of symptoms, including digestive problems, fatigue, weight loss, and anemia.

There is no cure for celiac disease, but the condition can be managed by following a gluten-free diet.

It’s estimated that about 3 million people in the US have been diagnosed with celiac disease.

However, many more people experience symptoms of celiac disease.

In this article we will talk about celiac disease and the affect it can have on the body.
Should you suspect that you might have celiac disease, it is advisable to get in contact with your doctor.

 

What is Celiac Disease?

 

Celiac disease is a condition where the body is unable to process gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.

When someone with celiac disease eats gluten, it triggers an immune response in the small intestine, which can lead to damage of the small intestine and other symptoms.

Symptoms of celiac disease can vary from person to person, but may include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue.

Some people with celiac disease may also experience anemia, osteoporosis, and headaches.

There is no cure for celiac disease, but the condition can be managed by following a gluten-free diet.

This means avoiding all foods that contain gluten, including bread, pasta, cereal, and many processed foods.

celiac disease gluten - Celiac Disease: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Diet and Treatment

 

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

 

Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune condition that affects the digestive system. When someone with celiac disease eats gluten, their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine.

This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, and weight loss.

In some cases, celiac disease can also cause anemia, osteoporosis, and dermatitis herpetiformis.

 

Diagnosing Celiac Disease 

 

Celiac disease is a digestive disorder that damages the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing nutrients from food. People with celiac disease have an immune reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

When people with celiac disease eat foods that contain gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging the small intestine.

This damage prevents the small intestine from absorbing nutrients from food, which can lead to malnutrition. Celiac disease is a serious, lifelong condition that can be treated by following a gluten-free diet.

There is no one definitive test for celiac disease. The best way to diagnose celiac disease is to start with a blood test to look for antibodies that are present in people with the disease.

If the blood test is positive, then a biopsy of the small intestine is needed to confirm the diagnosis.

celiac disease diagnosis bloodtest - Celiac Disease: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Diet and Treatment

Celiac Disease Diet

 

There is no one-size-fits-all diet for celiac disease, as each person reacts differently to gluten. However, the general consensus is that a gluten-free diet is the best way to manage the condition. This means avoiding all foods that contain wheat, barley, and rye.

For some people, this may mean making significant changes to their diet.

Others may be able to simply avoid foods that contain gluten. In either case, it is important to work with a dietitian to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients you need.

A gluten-free diet can be challenging, but it is possible to find delicious and nutritious foods that fit within the diet.

With careful planning and a positive attitude, you can maintain a healthy and enjoyable diet despite having celiac disease.

Ingredients To Avoid:

There are a few ingredients that celiacs should avoid, as they can trigger an immune response. Some of these ingredients include:

  • Gluten
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Oats

While oats are technically gluten-free, they are often contaminated with gluten during processing. Other ingredients to avoid include soy, corn, and rice.

Most processed foods contain one or more of these ingredients, so celiacs need to be vigilant about reading labels.

 

Avoid The Following Unless the Product Indicates They Are Gluten-Free:

There are a few things to avoid unless the product indicates they are gluten-free. First, watch out for hidden sources of gluten like:

  • Soy sauce
  • Malt vinegar
  • Some types of candy.

Also, be wary of processed foods, as they may contain gluten as well.

Finally, check the labels of any medications you take, as some contain gluten as well. By being aware of these potential sources of gluten, you can help avoid accidentally consuming it.

Gluten-Free Starches You Can Eat:
There are many gluten-free starches that you can eat. Some of these include:

  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Potatoes

These starches are all safe for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

They are also all healthy and nutritious options. So, if you’re looking for some gluten-free starch options, these are a great place to start.

celiac disease abdominal pain - Celiac Disease: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Diet and Treatment


Treatment for Celiac Disease

 

Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive system. People with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.  

When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging the lining of the small intestine. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue.

There is no cure for celiac disease, but the good news is that it can be effectively managed by following a strict gluten-free diet.

This means avoiding all foods that contain gluten, including bread, pasta, cereal, and baked goods. It can be difficult to adjust to a gluten-free diet, but there are many resources available to help people with celiac disease make the transition.

With careful planning and a commitment to following the diet, people with celiac disease can lead happy, healthy lives.

Who is at Risk for Celiac Disease?

 

Celiac disease is a condition that affects the digestive system and prevents the body from properly absorbing nutrients from food.

People with celiac disease are at risk for malabsorption, which can lead to malnutrition and other health problems. Celiac disease is most common in people of European descent, but it can occur in people of any ethnicity.

The exact cause of celiac disease is unknown, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

People with celiac disease must avoid eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.

celiac disease symptoms - Celiac Disease: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Diet and Treatment

 

Contact Dr. Schneider


Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive system. When people with celiac disease eat gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, their immune system responds by damaging the small intestine.

This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss and fatigue. There is no cure for celiac disease but following a gluten-free diet is the only treatment currently available.

Dr. Schneider is a medical professional with many years of experience in the field.  His services include endoscopy procedures such as, gastroscopy, colonoscopy and video capsule endoscopy.

If you are concerned about celiac disease, talk to Dr. Schneider to book your appointment.

For further reading on the procedures we perform, please visit our website or contact Dr. Schneider on 011-482-3010.

DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.

What Is Gluten Intolerance, How Do I Tell If I Have It, And How Can I Be Sure

What Is Gluten Intolerance, How Do I Tell If I Have It, And How Can I Be Sure

Introduction

 

Gluten intolerance is one of the most common food intolerances.

Gluten intolerance, also called Celiac disease, is an abnormal immune system response to gluten which causes inflammation in the intestines.

Gluten intolerance is not a medical condition that is well understood by many people.

If you have gluten intolerance, you might have experienced stomach pain and bloating in the past without realizing what was going on.

Now, it’s time to get educated.

Gluten intolerance may be more common than we think, so it’s important to know how you can tell if you have it and how to keep your symptoms at bay.

Here are some ways to find out if you can eat gluten with peace of mind and help yourself live a gluten-free lifestyle.

 

What Is Gluten Intolerance?

 

Gluten intolerance is a condition where your body reacts adversely to gluten.

Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.

Your digestive tract cannot break down this protein and digest it within your body, so it causes reactions like bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, and more.

If you are unsure if you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, ask your doctor to run tests for these conditions.

If you are diagnosed with celiac disease, you will be taught how to live a gluten-free diet for the rest of your life.

Celiac disease tends to be more common in people who have:

  • Celiac disease in the family
  • Down syndrome or Turner syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid disease
  • Addison’s disease

 

How Do I Know If I Have Gluten Intolerance?

 

If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or other forms of gluten sensitivity, it’s easy to tell if you have gluten intolerance.

But for someone not used to eating gluten-free food, it can be hard to recognize the symptoms of gluten intolerance.

One way to know if you have a sensitivity is by testing your blood. If you have a history of digestive issues like celiac disease or are highly sensitive to wheat, it’s likely that your blood will have antibodies to the protein in wheat.

It can also be helpful if you test for a food sensitivity or an infection (bacteria or yeast) that could cause symptoms similar to those caused by gluten intolerance.

 

gluten intolerance symptoms - What Is Gluten Intolerance, How Do I Tell If I Have It, And How Can I Be Sure

What Are the Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance?

 

The most common symptoms of gluten intolerance are stomach pain, bloating, and diarrhea.
Other symptoms may include:

–  Tendency to be tired or cranky
–  Having a low energy level
–  Having trouble concentrating

It is important to note that the list of possible symptoms may vary from person to person.

 

What If I Don’t Have Any Symptoms?

 

If you don’t have any symptoms, then it’s likely that you are gluten intolerant.

However, if you do experience symptoms, then you can be sure that you have a medical condition called celiac disease.

It’s important to see your doctor to get tested and start the treatment process to manage the symptoms of celiac disease.

If you want to know more about gluten intolerance and how to manage symptoms of celiac disease, visit my blog.

 

Diagnosing Gluten Sensitivity

 

One way to diagnose gluten intolerance is to get a blood test.

The blood test will reveal your levels of the antibody celiac disease specific immunoglobulin.

A (IgA), which can be indicative of gluten sensitivity. If your blood test comes back positive, you might want to talk with a doctor about the next steps in diagnosing and treating your symptoms.

Another way to diagnose gluten intolerance is by visiting your doctor.

Your doctor might also perform a tissue transglutaminase (tTG) antibody test that measures levels of antibodies against celiac disease transglutaminase in your tissues or serum.

This is an easier and less expensive option.

 

gluten intolerance diagnose - What Is Gluten Intolerance, How Do I Tell If I Have It, And How Can I Be Sure

What Is the Outlook for People with Gluten Intolerance?

 

The good news is that there are many things you can do to manage gluten intolerance. The first step is to work with your doctor to figure out an appropriate diet for your gluten disorder.

Foods that are normally safe to eat if you have gluten intolerance include:

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Dairy products
  • Gluten-free grains
  • Legumes

Gluten intolerance can cause a deficiency in important nutrients like vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, and iron.

The best way to get your daily dose of these vital nutrients is by taking a multivitamin.  But if you don’t want to spend your hard-earned money on a new vitamin every day, try a few different kinds for two weeks or so.

If you feel better without the vitamins and still continue to suffer from symptoms, then it’s time to get back on track with your regular supplements.

 

Preventative Treatment for a Future Case of Gluten Intolerance

 

The best way to prevent gluten intolerance from becoming a serious problem is to try and avoid it completely.

If you’re not sure if you have a gluten intolerance, or even if you do but want to make sure that it doesn’t become a problem later on, there are some simple ways to help keep your symptoms at bay at prevent flare-ups.

The most common symptom of gluten intolerance is stomach pain and bloating.

If you feel like this has been happening more often than usual, then it would be smart to talk with your doctor about preventive treatments for the future case of gluten intolerance.

Your doctor can prescribe something for you, which can work well for preventing symptoms of gluten-intolerance.

If you decide to go gluten-free, make sure that you follow the same rules as someone who has celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity:

  • You should only eat foods made with whole grains (such as wheat, oats, barley) instead of processed products containing white flour
  • You should stay away from soy sauce because it often contains wheat
  • You should also stay away from products containing high-fructose corn syrup because they often contain maltodextrin in place of real sugar

gluten intolerance diet - What Is Gluten Intolerance, How Do I Tell If I Have It, And How Can I Be Sure

Conclusion

 

Gluten intolerance is a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the body’s small intestine when it comes to gluten.

It can cause a variety of problems that range from minor to very serious.

That said, if you suspect you may have a gluten intolerance, there are a few things that you should know.

First, this is not an allergy, so taking allergy medicine will not help.

Second, symptoms may not appear in some people until they’ve been on the gluten-free diet for anywhere from 6 months to years.

This is why it’s difficult to tell if you have the condition without testing.

The only way to know is to have blood and stool tests done by a physician or other healthcare professional.

 

Getting Help

 

Can you relate?  Are these symptoms familiar in your own life?
There is no one definitive answer to the question of when to see a gastroenterologist.

However, there are some general guidelines that can help you decide when to seek medical help.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should see a gastroenterologist as soon as possible.

For more information on the diagnosis and treatment of abdominal pain in Johannesburg, contact Dr. Schneider.

Dr. Schneider is here to provide you with expert medical advice in the field of gastroenterology with years of experience.
Book an appointment online or contact us on 011 482-3010 to find out more.

DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.

Gluten Intolerant and When To See a Gastroenterologist

Gluten Intolerant and When To See a Gastroenterologist

A healthy functioning gut plays an important role in the functioning of your immune system.

It also helps extract nutrients from your food, vitamins, and medications, allowing these compounds to enter the bloodstream where they can fill your body with nourishment.

But the gut also serves as a critical barrier to block harmful substances and undigested food particles from entering the bloodstream.

From making correct diagnosis to starting treatment and education on a gluten-free diet, at GIDOCJHB, our goal is to provide comprehensive care for patients with gluten-related disorders.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is the glue that sticks it all together, and it’s a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.

Meaning it’s found in foods you probably eat every day – bread, pasta, cookies, cereals, crackers, salad dressings, and more.

Gluten is almost always found in foods that use these ingredients, but it can also be found in medicines, vitamins, and supplements that use small amounts of these ingredients too.

 gluten free diet - Gluten Intolerant and When To See a Gastroenterologist

What is Gluten Intolerance?

Gluten intolerance, also called gluten sensitivity, is an uncomfortable, and often painful disorder, where your body reacts negatively to eating gluten.

In some ways, gluten intolerance is similar to celiac disease, however, Gluten intolerance is different than celiac disease, which is the disorder that’s diagnosed when someone has a true allergy to gluten.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that runs in the family (hereditary).

Unlike celiac disease, which can cause permanent damage to your small intestine, gluten intolerance can cause problems with your digestive system, but it won’t cause permanent damage to your stomach, intestine, or other organs.

 

Causes of Gluten Intolerance

The specific causes of non-celiac gluten sensitivity are unclear and are being researched.

As of today, It is not known why some people are sensitive to gluten.

Unlike celiac disease, which runs in families, it doesn’t have the typical markers or intestine damage used to diagnose that autoimmune disorder.

Because there are other digestive disorders with similar symptoms to those of gluten sensitivity, the first thing you should do if you have these symptoms is to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist about your diagnosis options.

 

gluten intolerance symptoms - Gluten Intolerant and When To See a Gastroenterologist

Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity

The symptoms of gluten sensitivity are mostly identical to those of celiac disease. You may experience symptoms daily or from time to time.

At times any of these symptoms can range from mild to severe. You may have gluten sensitivity if eating foods with gluten causes you to experience:

1. Upset Stomach

This can take on many different forms for the gluten intolerant such as constipation, diarrhea, gas, etc.

If you’re having chronic digestive issues, it makes sense to talk to a gastroenterologist about diagnosing the source.

2. Headaches

People with gluten sensitivity may experience severe headaches or migraines.

 

3. Abdominal Pain

People diagnosed with gluten intolerance often experience abdominal pain frequently, without an obvious cause or reason.

4. Fatigue

People with gluten sensitivity often have a lack of energy that impact daily functioning.

5. Nausea

Nausea can have many causes, but if it often occurs after eating gluten it can be a sign of gluten intolerance.

6. Bloating

Your stomach can swell and feel tender after digesting gluten. Keep in mind that IBS can also cause bloating, as can hormones and eating certain gassy foods.

 

Other Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity

  • Itching skin
  • Muscle cramping
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Joint pain
  • Rashes

If you have these symptoms, it’s recommended to schedule a consultation and get officially diagnosed, as this is important to determine your course of treatment. 

 gluten intolerant treament - Gluten Intolerant and When To See a Gastroenterologist

Gluten Intolerance Diagnosis

To find out if you have are gluten intolerant or sensitive, Dr. Schneider will talk to you about your symptoms, including how often they occur and the impact.

It’s important to see your gastroenterologist for a diagnosis rather than diagnosing yourself, as gluten intolerance symptoms are similar to those of other medical conditions.

You may also find it helpful to keep a daily food journal for a few months, highlighting what you ate and when symptoms occurred and seeing if there is a pattern.

If you believe the symptoms are triggered by gluten, it’s important to rule out the possibility that its coeliac disease.

Your gastroenterologist will conduct a blood test, looking for antibodies that are a telltale sign of the disease; the diagnosis will then be confirmed with a gut biopsy to look for signs of damage.

Unfortunately, there is currently no medical test to diagnose non-celiac gluten intolerance or sensitivity.

The most reliable way of diagnosing it is by following an elimination diet.

Once you have an accurate diagnosis, Dr. Schneirder will be able to provide you with advice as to the most appropriate dietary changes and other ways moving forward.

 Gluten Intolerant - Gluten Intolerant and When To See a Gastroenterologist

Gluten Intolerance Treatment

Maintaining a strict gluten-free diet should help manage symptoms and prevent further discomfort and pain.

This means carefully reading the labels on any products you buy, and replacing your normal bread, pasta, breakfast cereal, etc with a gluten-free alternative.

Following a gluten intolerance diet may seem difficult at first, but the relief of all those symptoms might just give you a new lease of life.

You will have to stay on the gluten-free diet even after you don’t feel any symptoms.

You might also need to take certain vitamins and supplements to make sure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.

 gluten intolerance gastroenterologist - Gluten Intolerant and When To See a Gastroenterologist

When to See a Gastroenterologist

You should see a gastroenterologist if you have any of the symptoms above when you eat foods containing gluten. Its recommended scheduling an appointment with if:

  • You have diarrhea or digestive discomfort lasting for more than two weeks
  • You have a risk factor such as type 1 diabetes
  • You have a family member with the condition.

DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.