What is Gluten Sensitivity
Gluten Intolerance (also gluten sensitivity) is a spectrum of disorders, including celiac disease and wheat allergy, in which gluten has an adverse effect on the body. The gluten interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food by damaging a part of the small intestine called the villi. Damaged villi make it nearly impossible for the body to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, leading to malnourishment and a host of other problems including cancer, osteoporosis, infertility, diabetes and the onset of other autoimmune diseases.
Tragically, 95% of people with gluten intolerance remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. This means that up to three million Americans have the disorder and only about 150,000 know they have the condition.
Nearly one out of every 100 Americans has celiac disease and studies show a gluten sensitivity might be found in greater than 1 in 3 people. Gluten sensitivity is a genetic disorder, meaning that it passes from parent to child via DNA. In some cases, stressful events like pregnancy, surgery, infection or severe emotional distress can trigger the onset of the disease.
Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity
There are a wide variety of symptoms that can manifest in many typical and atypical ways. With nearly 300 symptoms associated with the disorder, doctors often have difficulty diagnosing it and in many cases, misdiagnose patients with other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.
The most common symptoms of gluten sensitivity/intolerance are gastrointestinal and include:
-Abdominal pain -Constipation -Gas -Bloating -Decreased appetite
-Increased appetite in some -Bloody or fatty stools -Diarrhea -Nausea
Prevalent non-intestinal symptoms include:
-Anemia -ADD/ADHD -Bone & joint pain -Depression Enamel defects on teeth
-Fatigue -Infertility -Pregnancy complications -Itchy skin rash -Migraine headaches
-Osteoporosis/osteopenia -Pale sores in mouth -Failure to thrive/delayed growth in children
People who suffer from unexplained symptoms for several months should speak to a doctor about gluten sensitivity as a potential cause. A delayed diagnosis can increase the risk of developing new symptoms or other complications.
At The Center for Natural & Integrative Medicine, we offer nutrition consulting and testing for gluten sensitivity/intolerance and other food allergies. Contact our office for more information.
Our next blog will cover how gluten intolerance is diagnoses as well as treatment for gluten sensitivity.