Gluten allergies are a lot more common than you may think. Most do not even know they have a gluten allergy unless the symptoms are severe. Studies indicate that 1 in every 167 children and 1 in every 111 adults have a gluten allergy. With gluten allergies being so common it is important to understand what gluten is. It is a rubbery like protein found in wheat, barley, oats, and rye. It is a digestive disorder that can in severe cases scar the lining of the small intestine preventing absorption of other nutrients. If left untreated and undiagnosed, gluten allergies can cause anemia, bone disease, and cause a person to become predisposition ed to cancer. The good news is it is treatable. While the symptoms and severity of the symptoms can vary from person to person, they generally include hives, swelling, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting. If a person is highly sensitive to gluten, the symptoms could be life threatening.
Making a diagnosis is easy as anyone who eats anything with rye, barley, oats, or wheat will have adverse reactions if they have a gluten allergy. The more difficult challenge is that rye, barley and wheat are in so many of the products that we eat on a daily basis, finding out that it is truly a gluten allergy may take a physician conducting a skin prick test or a blood test to quickly confirm that gluten is the problem.
If the reaction is severe, the solution is to eliminate all wheat, barley, oats, and rye as well as their by products from your diet. If it is only mild allergy medication or shots may help. Most young children that have a gluten allergy will grow out of it.
Gluten Intolerance is a different matter. Coeliac Disease, another name for gluten intolerance, is a hereditary disorder that affects the immune system. In this case the lining of the small intestine is damaged whenever gluten is consumed meaning other important nutrients are not being absorbed. Coeliac Disease is treated very differently than a gluten allergy.
In children the symptoms can be seen as swollen abdomen, abnormal stools, poor muscle tone, poor appetite and malabsorption. In an adult who has Coeliac Disease, they will show diarrhea, significant weight loss, abdominal cramping and bloating, constipation and highly offensive stools.
In both cases a doctor can confirm the diagnosis with a blood test. A person with a gluten allergy can enjoy a normal healthy life by changing the choice of foods. Rice and maize do not contain gluten, it offers a wonderful alternative for those with a gluten allergy. There are a wide variety of options to choose from such as tapioca and potato flours to be used as substitutes as well. Many cook books offer gluten free recipes to choose from. The most important key to reclaiming your life if you suffer from either a gluten allergy or from Coeliac disease, is to eliminate wheat, barley, oats, and rye from your diet