Gluten allergy, also known as celiac disease, is an autoimmune disorder that affects millions of people around the world. It is a condition where the body reacts to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, and produces an inflammatory response that damages the small intestine. The symptoms of gluten allergy vary widely and can range from mild to severe. The treatment for gluten allergy is a strict gluten-free diet that is followed for life.
Symptoms of Gluten Allergy
The symptoms of gluten allergy can vary greatly from person to person. Some people may experience symptoms that are barely noticeable, while others may experience symptoms that are severe and life-altering. The symptoms can occur in any order and can range from digestive problems to skin rashes to joint pain. Some common symptoms of gluten allergy include:
The most common symptom of gluten allergy is digestive problems, including bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and flatulence. People with celiac disease may also experience nausea, vomiting, and weight loss. These digestive problems are caused by the inflammation that gluten causes in the small intestine, which leads to damage to the small intestine’s villi.
Skin rashes, including dermatitis herpetiformis, are another common symptom of gluten allergy. This rash is itchy, blistering, and painful, and is often mistaken for eczema or hives. The rash is caused by the deposition of gluten in the skin, which triggers an immune response and causes the skin to become inflamed.
Joint pain, including arthritis, is another symptom of gluten allergy. This joint pain is caused by the inflammation that gluten causes in the body, which affects the joints and causes pain, swelling, and stiffness. People with celiac disease may also experience fatigue and muscle weakness, which is a result of the body’s inability to absorb essential nutrients and minerals.
Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are also common symptoms of gluten allergy. These mental health problems are caused by the inflammation that gluten causes in the body, which affects the brain and can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. People with celiac disease may also experience cognitive problems, including memory loss and difficulty concentrating.
Diagnosis of Gluten Allergy
The diagnosis of gluten allergy can be difficult, as the symptoms can be similar to other conditions and diseases. The first step in diagnosing celiac disease is a blood test, which can detect antibodies to gluten. If the blood test is positive, the next step is a biopsy of the small intestine, which will show if there is any damage to the small intestine’s villi.
Treatment for Gluten Allergy
The treatment for gluten allergy is a strict gluten-free diet, which is followed for life. This diet eliminates all sources of gluten, including wheat, barley, and rye, and is designed to allow the small intestine to heal. The gluten-free diet must be followed strictly, as even small amounts of gluten can cause damage to the small intestine and trigger an immune response.
People with celiac disease must also be careful about cross-contamination, which is when gluten-free food becomes contaminated with gluten. This can happen when gluten-free food is prepared in a kitchen that also prepares gluten-containing food, or when gluten-free food is processed in a facility that also processes gluten-containing food. To prevent cross-contamination, people with celiac disease should only eat gluten-free food that is prepared and processed in a gluten-free facility.