There's a lot of talk about gluten these days, with gluten-free products popping up on the shelves at the grocery store. But what does it mean to have an gluten intolerance? And is it possible that you are allergic to gluten?
What is Gluten?
Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye and barley. If a food contains any of these ingredients, chances are it contains gluten.
What Types of Health Problems Does it Cause?
There are at least 55 diseases linked to gluten intolerance, including Celiac Disease. Scientists estimate that 15 percent of the American population is gluten intolerant. However, most people with an aversion to gluten are never formally diagnosed.
What Are the Signs of Gluten Intolerance?
- Digestive issues like bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation.
- Keratosis Pilaris or "chicken skin" on the back of your arms.
- Problems concentrating, fatigue or feeling tired after eating gluten.
- Diagnosis of an Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma or multiple sclerosis.
- Neurologic symptoms including dizziness or problems balancing.
- Hormonal issues like premenstrual syndrome (PMS), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or unexplained infertility.
- Headaches, especially migraines.
- Chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia diagnosis which means your doctor cannot identify the cause of your fatigue or pain.
- Joint swelling, inflammation and pain in your fingers, knees or hips.
- Emotional issues like anxiety, depression, mood swings and ADD.
How to Test for Gluten Intolerance?
The best way to determine if you have a gluten intolerance is to eliminate gluten from your diet for a few weeks and then reintroduce it. If your symptoms improve but return when gluten is reintroduced, gluten could very likely be a problem for you. Remember that it's difficult to completely remove the gluten protein from your diet so it may take months to be entirely eliminated from your system. Therefore, the longer you can eliminate it from your diet before reintroducing it, the better.
What Should I Do for a Gluten Intolerance?
If you feel you're intolerant to gluten, you'll need to eliminate the protein from your diet entirely. You should also speak with a doctor about your concerns. He or she will recommend any additional testing at a Long Island Medical Center that's required to make a diagnosis.
If you'd like to speak with a doctor regarding your concerns about gluten sensitivity, please contact Peconic Bay Medical Center for an appointment with one of our skilled, compassionate physicians.