What does a gluten allergy do to your body

Before gluten sensitivity can be diagnosed, celiac disease must be ruled out.

What does a gluten allergy do to your body

Physicians generally being this process by using a panel of celiac blood tests to glance for the antibodies that indicate the condition. There is some evidence that two of those tests—the AGA-IgA and the AGG-IgG—could indicate non-celiac gluten sensitivity as well. However, there is currently no blood test that is specific for gluten sensitivity.

Alessio Fasano, MD, head of the University of Maryland Middle for Celiac Research, says that the AGA-IgA and AGA-IgG blood tests only serve as surrogates and that there is no specificity there.

The fact that about half of gluten sensitivity patients tested negative for these antibodies makes those two tests much less useful as tests for gluten sensitivity, notes Dr. Fasano.

How Celiac Disease Is Diagnosed


At-Home Testing

Direct-to-consumer test kits are available that test stool or a finger-prick blood sample for various food sensitivities, including gluten. However, the testing methods used own not been proven to reliably identify food allergies, food intolerances, or gluten sensitivity.

Test kits such as Everlywell (pitched on the TV series "Shark Tank") test for IgG antibodies, which are a poor indicator of food intolerance.

Allergy professional organizations in Europe, Canada, and the United States warn that numerous people without food allergies or intolerances will test positive with these kits, which could lead to unnecessarily restricting healthy foods and won't assist diagnose a food intolerance.

EnteroLab gluten sensitivity testing is marketed directly to consumers, using a stool sample. Enterolab's stool testing looks for antibodies to gluten directly in your intestinal tract.

However, its testing protocol, developed by gastroenterologist Kenneth Fine, MD, has yet to undergo exterior scrutiny and verification.

What's more, Dr. Fine has come under considerable criticism from other physicians and from people in the celiac/gluten-sensitive community for failing to publish his research and results.

What does a gluten allergy do to your body

As a result, few physicians will accept EnteroLab testing as proof of gluten sensitivity.


Gluten-Free Diet and Gluten Challenge

Because there is no blood test or other biomarker tests that can diagnose gluten sensitivity, the best method is using a symptom questionnaire and a gluten challenge. The criteria developed by the Salerno Experts' Panel is primarily used for research, but it can be used in a clinical setting:

  • Eat a normal gluten-containing diet for at least six weeks and rate your symptoms on a numerical rating scale.
  • Go on a strict gluten-free diet for at least the next six weeks (preferably with consultation of a dietitian).

    You rate your symptoms weekly. Response to the gluten-free diet is defined as a greater than a 30% reduction in one to three of your main symptoms in at least three of the six weekly evaluations.

  • See your doctor for a gluten challenge: In a research setting, this is done with a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover challenge. For a clinical setting, it could be single-blinded and you wouldn't know whether you've been given gluten, but the doctor would.

For a gluten challenge, you take a dose of 8 grams of gluten (or placebo) daily for one week while otherwise maintaining your gluten-free diet.

What does a gluten allergy do to your body

The gluten (or placebo) is provided in an edible such as a muffin, bar, or bread. You report on your symptoms with the questionnaire.

There is a one-week washout period, followed by a challenge again, this time with the opposite dose (placebo or gluten) and reporting of symptoms. Likewise here, if there is a variation of 30% between the gluten and placebo, it can indicate gluten sensitivity. If not, other causes of the symptoms should be explored.

For a gluten challenge, you take a dose of 8 grams of gluten (or placebo) daily for one week while otherwise maintaining your gluten-free diet.

The gluten (or placebo) is provided in an edible such as a muffin, bar, or bread. You report on your symptoms with the questionnaire.

There is a one-week washout period, followed by a challenge again, this time with the opposite dose (placebo or gluten) and reporting of symptoms.

What does a gluten allergy do to your body

Likewise here, if there is a variation of 30% between the gluten and placebo, it can indicate gluten sensitivity. If not, other causes of the symptoms should be explored.


Differential Diagnoses

Gluten sensitivity can only be diagnosed after ruling out celiac disease and food allergies, especially wheat allergy. While these three conditions are every treated with a gluten-free or wheat-free diet, they own some significant differences.

Celiac disease is a genetic, autoimmune disease that damages the lining of the little intestine and can lead to malabsorption of nutrients. It has a large number of symptoms and can be diagnosed with blood tests and endoscopy/biopsy of the little intestine.

Endoscopy/biopsy might be done if celiac disease is suspected, but will not show any irregularities in gluten sensitivity.

Wheat allergy is an immune system response to the proteins in wheat. When a person has a food allergy to wheat, their body's immune system sees the proteins in wheat as invaders and initiates an allergic response, which can result in hives, swelling of the lips and throat, and, in extreme cases, anaphylaxis. The reaction to wheat happens extremely quick in wheat allergy, with symptoms in minutes to a few hours.

A person with wheat allergy may be capable to own gluten from non-wheat sources, unless they also own celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Children may outgrow a wheat allergy, but in adults it generally persists for life.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity doesn't own the autoimmune markers or allergy markers seen in celiac disease and wheat allergy, and doesn't show the typical damage to the little intestine seen in celiac disease. The symptoms develop slowly (in two or more days) after exposure to gluten, rather than rapidly, as seen with wheat allergy.

Finally, there are some connections between gluten sensitivity and irritable bowel syndrome that will need to be explored by your doctor as well.

What does a gluten allergy do to your body

For this reason, it is extremely significant that you talk to your doctor about your symptoms if you feel you are reacting to gluten.

Do You Own IBS, Celiac Disease, or Gluten Sensitivity?

A Expression From Verywell

Testing for gluten sensitivity is still in its infancy. The diagnosis is based on excluding other conditions and assessing the reaction to a gluten-free diet and gluten challenge. There is no dependable at-home test and blood tests are primarily done to law out celiac disease and other conditions.

If medical researchers can consent on criteria for the condition, it is likely that better, more precise options will be developed in the future.

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity Treatment Options

Consumers should be wary of home testing kits for gluten sensitivity as they often give false-positive results and do not use testing methods approved by clinical authorities.

Gluten intolerance or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, as it is also known, shares some of the same symptoms as celiac disease but is a less severe condition.

Gluten intolerance can still cause considerable discomfort, however, and people sometimes use lifestyle changes to attempt and manage its symptoms.

Gluten intolerance is often mistaken for celiac disease, but they are separate conditions. Celiac disease is a severe autoimmune disease, and it can damage a person's digestive system.

Unlike celiac disease, however, it is unclear why the symptoms of gluten intolerance happen, but it does not appear to involve the immune system or damage the gastrointestinal or GI tract.

People also, sometimes, error gluten intolerance for a wheat allergy.

A wheat allergy can be life-threatening, as some symptoms can impair breathing or cause a loss of consciousness, which is not the case with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

The symptoms of gluten intolerance are less severe than celiac disease or a wheat allergy, and people know much less about the condition.

This article will outline seven symptoms that people associate with gluten intolerance, and which foods contain gluten.


Seven symptoms of a gluten intolerance

Many of these symptoms happen shortly after consuming gluten.

However, the exact combination of symptoms can vary.

People who report gluten intolerance note the following symptoms as some of the most commonly occurring ones when they include glutenous foods in their usual diet.

Abdominal pain

Similarly, several diverse causes can lead to abdominal pain. But, again, those reporting gluten intolerance often note experiencing abdominal pain frequently and without another obvious reason.

Diarrhea and constipation

Those who report gluten intolerance tell regular instances of diarrhea and constipation are a common symptom.

Occasionally having such digestive issues is normal, but experiencing them on most days can indicate an underlying condition.

People with celiac disease may also experience diarrhea and constipation.

They may also own poop that smells particularly unpleasant, as the condition causes poor nutrient absorption.

Fatigue

Fatigue is another symptom that people may discover hard to identify, as it can own a lot of diverse causes, numerous of which are not related to any medical condition.

People with gluten intolerance may own persistent feelings of tiredness that impair daily functioning.

Headaches

Experiencing regular headaches is another symptom that can happen in people with gluten intolerance.

Nausea

People with gluten intolerance may also experience nausea, particularly after consuming a meal containing gluten.

Nausea can own numerous causes, but if it often occurs after eating gluten it can be a sign of gluten intolerance.

Bloating

Another extremely common symptom that people report in cases of gluten intolerance is bloating. This refers to the feeling of a full stomach that is uncomfortable and lasting. It is common also to feel a buildup of gas.

Over-eating is the most common reason for bloating, but it can happen for a number of diverse reasons.

In people with gluten intolerance, the feeling of bloating may happen extremely regularly and is not necessarily related to the quantity of food they eat.

Other symptoms

People with gluten intolerance may experience several of these symptoms on a regular basis.

It is also possible for other symptoms to happen with gluten intolerance, although they are less common.

These may include:


How is it diagnosed?

It is essential to ensure first that a more severe condition, such as celiac disease or a wheat allergy, is not present if gluten intolerance is suspected.

Taking a blood sample, which is then analyzed to detect the presence of antibodies that could indicate celiac disease or a wheat allergy, can often do this.

In some cases, other tests may also be necessary.

Once a doctor has ruled out a more serious condition, it can still be hard for them to confirm whether gluten intolerance is present, as there are no tests for this.

The most common method people use to determine if gluten intolerance is present is to reduce or remove gluten from a diet and monitor changes in symptoms.

It can assist for a person to hold a food diary to record what foods they are consuming and what symptoms they are having.


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What does a gluten allergy do to your body