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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
People with gluten sensitivity often have a lack of energy that impact daily functioning.
Nausea can have many causes, but if it often occurs after eating gluten it can be a sign of gluten intolerance.
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
- Decrease in appetite
- Joint pain
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 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 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.
When to See a Gastroenterologist
- 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.