gluten allergy

Dr. Stephen Wangen of the IBS Treatment Center.
Dr. Stephen Wangen of the IBS Treatment Center.

Do you know what gluten sensitivity is? Do you know how it differs from Celiac Disease? Maybe you don’t even know what gluten is.

Here is a gluten definition refresher: Gluten is a protein that is found in many different grains, including wheat, spelt, rye, and barley.

If you are sensitive to gluten, then you are sensitive to all of these grains, and to anything made from any of these grains.

Celiac disease is a very specific kind of gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease occurs when there is a very specific kind of damage that occurs to the villi in the small intestine. This damage is called villous atrophy.

This damage may be seen on a biopsy of the small intestine, which is taken during an upper endoscopy performed by a gastroenterologist. It can also be diagnosed with a blood test.

However, other than the villous atrophy, there is often very little difference between celiac disease and other forms of (non-celiac) gluten sensitivity in terms of symptoms or reactions to the ingestion of gluten. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity can cause just as many problems as celiac disease, and be just as severe. (more…)

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(photo: commons.wikimedia)
(photo: commons.wikimedia)

Like many people who have been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you may have discovered that you are gluten intolerant. Or maybe you have IBS symptoms and are wondering if you are gluten intolerant.

The diagnosis of IBS of course is (or was) of no real help to you, and it really is of no help to anyone, except when it is definitively used to rule out potentially deadly conditions. IBS is a diagnosis often given to people with chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, abdominal pain, or a combination of any of those symptoms.

But being diagnosed with IBS only means that your bowel irritates you, which you already know.

The symptoms called IBS are something we deal with every day at the IBS Treatment Center. Regardless of whether a patient has been formally diagnosed with IBS, or just has the symptoms, we try to identify the cause or causes.
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(image thanks to weddingbycolor.com)

Think that your problem couldn’t be caused by a gluten sensitivity? Think again.

If you’re still under the impression that people who react to gluten always have diarrhea, then you’re old school.

If you think that it has to involve any digestive symptom at all, you’re still behind the times.

Gluten sensitivity comes in all shapes and sizes

Let’s take a look at celiac disease. Celiac disease is a specific kind of damage in the small intestine known as villous atrophy. This is a symptom associated with gluten sensitivity. It just happens to be a symptom with it’s own disease name.

With or without celiac disease, it’s clear that gluten sensitivity is associated with all kinds of health problems. Got fatigue? That could be your gluten sensitivity. Brain fog? That too. Insomnia? Ditto. Poor recovery from exercise?  Poor endurance?  All can be due to gluten sensitivity.

Behavioral problems and psychological difficulties can also be due to gluten sensitivity. Many people report depression or anxiety that fall away once they stop eating gluten. Others notice dramatic changes in their kids who once had ADD, irritability, poor grades, poor social skills, and even autism.

How about neurological disorders?  

White lesions in the brain can be caused by gluten, as can tics, seizures, and the inability to walk. I know people who got rid of their cane, or literally walked away from their wheelchair after they stopped eating gluten. No problem is too dramatic or too severe that it couldn’t be exacerbated by a gluten sensitivity.

Dermatitis herpetiformis is caused by a reaction to gluten. But even if you can’t pronounce it, you’ll recognize acne, eczema, and psoriasis. All fancy names for skin reactions that really do have a cause, and sometimes it’s gluten. Itchy skin? That too.

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