Gluten Symptoms - How Can You Tell When It's Something More Serious?
Millions of people throughout the United States suffer from gluten intolerance. While many assume that gluten sensitivity is a type of food allergy, it is actually a response to the presence of gluten in the body which causes digestion difficulty. Gluten is a protein that is found in many common grains including wheat, rye, and barley. When someone has gluten intolerance, the body has trouble digesting the protein. It results in a variety of gluten symptoms that range from mild and barely noticeable, to uncomfortable and irritating, to extremely painful.
Common gluten sensitivity symptoms include:
- Abdominal swelling
- Diarrhea or abnormal stool
- Abdominal cramps
There are some cases in which gluten symptoms may be something more serious. Severe gluten intolerance, called celiac disease, is an auto-immune disease that causes damage to the walls of the small intestine. When the body senses gluten in its system, the immune system has an abnormal response to the protein and begins to attack the villi that line the walls of the small intestine. When these tissues become damaged, the body is unable to properly digest food and absorb essential nutrients. This can cause more severe gluten symptoms such as fatigue, vomiting, and weight loss and can lead to conditions like osteoporosis, malnutrition, anemia, and more.
If you suspect you may be suffering from gluten intolerance, or possibly celiac disease, consult with your physician. He or she should be able to run the necessary tests to determine the severity of your condition and can advocate effective treatment options. In many cases, medication is not needed to treat celiac disease, though a multivitamin and gluten-free diet will most likely be recommended.