The reliable methods for the diagnosis of gluten allergy are elimination diet, blood tests, and endoscopy procedure. Out of these diagnostic approaches, elimination diet is reliable and inexpensive; while endoscopy gives the most accurate results, it is expensive. This article provides some information about the causes, symptoms, and diagnosis of this allergy.
Gluten is a storage protein found along with starch in the endosperm of some cereal grains such as wheat, rye, oat, barley, and malt. It is made up of two proteins called glutenin and gliadin. In case of people affected by gluten allergy, the digestive system is impaired and nutrient absorption is compromised. Medical help must be sought if one experiences distressing symptoms after the ingestion of food items that contain this protein.
Causes and Symptoms
As per the medical survey, occurrence of gluten sensitivity in children and adults is very high. It is a genetic disorder, which means that it might run in families. Those who are predisposed to this problem are at a higher risk of manifesting the intolerance symptoms than the others. Thus, it is partly an autoimmune disease and partly a hereditary disease. The medical condition caused as a result of allergic responses to gluten is also known as celiac disease.
The affected person may have mild inflammation of the inner intestinal lining, or severe damage of the intestinal villi. In either case, nutrient absorption by the small intestinal wall is reduced to a certain extent, which results in weakness. The symptoms of this allergy include fatigue, tiredness, lack of stamina, headache, breathing problems, and skin conditions.
The symptoms include gastrointestinal discomfort and digestion-related problems. As a consequence, the probability of having this intolerance is higher in individuals who experience digestive problems. People who experience symptoms after consuming wheat, rye, barley, and their products are strongly recommended to consult a doctor.
This is a common, at-home approach for ruling out food allergy. In the first few days, foods containing gluten are eliminated from the diet plan. If a person has this allergy, symptoms will subside gradually. For confirmation, a further step is indicated, which involves having foods that contain gluten. In case, the associated allergy symptoms return, it is confirmed that the person is sensitive to gluten protein.
Blood tests can also be conducted for gluten allergy diagnosis. The first blood sample is collected when the affected person is having a gluten-free diet, and the second blood sample is drawn after consuming foods containing gluten. The two blood samples are compared for the amount of antibodies. If the person is allergic to gluten, the level of certain antibodies would be elevated after ingesting gluten.
Endoscopy is the most precise method for diagnosis. During the procedure, a flexible tube equipped with a small camera is introduced in the gastrointestinal column. As the tube passes, the images of the intestine and duodenum are captured. In case of people who are affected by this allergy, there are prominent signs that indicate damage to the mucosal lining of the small intestine and duodenum.
The test results will help the concerned physician determine whether an individual has a sensitivity to gluten protein or not. If yes, a handout for gluten allergy diet is given to the affected person. Such a diet program is focused on avoiding food items that contain gluten. In order to supplement the nutrients provided by gluten containing cereals, the doctor would recommend other food grains, like rice, millet, quinoa, and buckwheat.
The intolerance to gluten affects the diet and lifestyle habits of an individual. This is because it is the main ingredient in some of the most nutritive and fiber-rich cereal grains. Fortunately, the damage to the intestinal lining can be restored with timely diagnosis and prompt treatment.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.