One of the reasons it’s so hard to determine whether you have a gluten allergy, celiac disease, or something totally unrelated, is the wide variety of symptoms. The first step is understanding the differences.
Gluten sensitivity is broken into two subcategories: gluten allergy and gluten intolerance/celiac disease.
Gluten containing grains like wheat, rye, spelt, barley, and triticale are very hard for the body to digest. It’s advised to soak or ferment them first; breaking down harmful phytic acid so it’s easier on our digestive systems.
Gluten allergies often form when a person eats gluten-containing foods continually. While a person with a gluten allergy experiences some of the symptoms listed below, there is no damage to the intestinal walls as in celiac disease.
Symptoms of gluten allergy: (this list is not exhaustive by any means)
Attention and behavioral problems (in children and adults)
Feeling dizzy or faint
Joint and muscle aches and pains
Nausea or vomiting
Short stature in children
Suspected irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)/similar effects
Swollen throat or tongue
Unexplained runny nose
Upper repository tract problems
Watery or itchy eyes
Gluten intolerance/celiac disease
Gluten intolerance is also called celiac disease. This is a genetically inherited autoimmune disease that is much more severe than a gluten allergy. When exposed to gluten, a celiac’s body triggers the immune system to identify gluten as harmful. If that person eats gluten, the normal intestine becomes inflamed and the villa are flattened.
The villa’s job is to absorb nutrients, but if they’re flattened, they can’t absorb properly. This causes weight loss, wasting and malnutrition.
If a celiac continues to eat gluten, his chances of developing gastrointestinal cancer increase 40 to 100 times.
Signs and symptoms of celiac disease are not the same for everyone. It’s guessed that only 10% of celiacs have the ‘typical’ symptoms. Some even report no symptoms at all. And to make it even more frustrating, celiac symptoms can mimic other diseases.
Celiac symptoms include:
Abdominal pain and cramping/bloating
Abnormal menstrual periods
Appetite increases to the point of craving
Decreased ability to clot blood
Dermatitis herpetiformis (itchy, blistering skin disease)
Ill health with no gastrointestinal symptoms
Muscle cramps (especially in hands and legs)
Pale, foul-smelling stool
Psychological issues (stress, nerves, depression, irritability etc.)
Tingling in legs and feet
Tooth discoloration or loss of enamel
Unable to concentrate
Weight Loss (in children look for slow development, not gaining weight, losing weight)
Testing for celiac disease
You’ve probably guessed it already, but if you suspect you have celiac disease make an appointment with your doctor and test for it. A common way to test for celiac is with a normal intestinal biopsy known as an EGD. With this test an endoscope is inserted into the mouth and down into the duodenum where multiple normal samples of the intestinal lining are taken.
Another test checks for specific antibodies that the body produces with celiac disease. Because antibody levels will decrease if you begin eating gluten-free before testing, it’s recommended that you don’t change your diet until you’ve taken the test or it might give a false reading.
Again, these symptoms can also be the cause of many other medical conditions. Please seek professional medical advice when trying to determine a cause for your symptoms.
Shared with: Healthy Home Economist, The Modest Mom Blog, Flour Me With Love, Simply Sugar & Gluten Free, Real Food Forager, Delicious Obsessions, Time-Warp Wife, Chef in Training, Whole New Mom, Comfy in the Kitchen, Far Above Rubies, Growing Home, Healthy 2day Wednesdays,