A gluten allergy is called celiac disease. The name implies that a person will have an inflammatory reaction to any gluten-containing product, such as wheat, rye, oat, and barley. It actually is not an allergy, since there’s no histamine release, but rather a severe inflammatory reaction in the small intestine. Celiac disease can be a very serious condition, causing weight loss, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and if the person does not avoid gluten, there is a chance of developing a type of cancer involving the small intestine.
Thanks to the gluten avoidance fad, many people feel that gluten is the enemy. They feel it leads to depression, weight gain, fatigue, and headaches, but in reality this is not the case. There is a strong family history for celiac disease to occur in many members of the family. So we see many parents having all of the family avoid gluten, which sometimes can make it difficult, especially when it comes to school lunches or a pizza birthday party, for example.
Food allergies are serious and can be life-threatening, as we see with peanut or shellfish allergies. Don’t confuse celiac disease with this type of allergy problem. And by the way, there’s no such thing as “slightly” allergic to gluten or gluten sensitivity – you either have celiac disease or you do not. Diagnosing celiac disease is easy with a specialized blood test ordered by a physician, but in some cases a small bowel biopsy would be necessary.
Are you concerned you or one of your kids may have celiac disease or a gluten allergy? Contact us to schedule an office visit. We would be happy to help you determine whether you are affected by this potentially serious condition, and help you learn how to manage it.