Did you know that Gluten is responsible for more than 55 diseases and just 1% of the people suffering from gluten intolerance or celiac disease are ever diagnosed? Millions of people around the world suffer from gluten allergy. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley etc. and the allergy develops when body becomes over sensitive to this protein. This article throws light on various allergy symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment and other important information about the allergy.
All the symptoms of gluten allergy are generally mild. In very rare cases they are severe making appropriate management of the allergy necessary. The risk of developing this allergy increases if the family has history of allergic diseases like asthma, eczema or other such allergies. Majority of the children outgrow this allergy by the time they are 12 years old. Some of the common symptoms of this allergy are skin rashes, nausea, stomach cramps, indigestion, vomiting, diarrhea, sneezing, headaches, asthma etc. If these symptoms are noticed after consuming wheat, rye, barley etc., consulting a doctor is advisable.
Consulting an allergist is the best way to confirm if one is suffering from the allergy. Skin prick test is one of the best ways to diagnose. During this test, wheat protein liquid is placed on the backside of the forearm. The area is then pricked with a small aseptic probe which allows the liquid to seep into the skin. Formation of reddish spots or small boils in the next half an hour indicates that the individual is allergic to gluten.
Blood test is another method employed to diagnose the allergy. Blood sample of the concerned individual is tested for the presence of immunoglobulin E antibodies to gluten. The blood test also enables differentiation between the allergy and other celiac diseases. In case the above mentioned two tests are unable to establish definitive results, an oral food test is conducted where the subject consumes small amount of gluten under medical supervision and observations are made to check the developments of any reactions.
Individuals suffering severely with this allergy are advised to avoid consumption of gluten in food as well as non food items. Such individuals should avoid food products that contain gluten containing ingredients. Though substituting wheat as an ingredient in breads, cakes, muffins etc. is difficult, a combination of other non wheat flours such as rice, corn, soy etc. is generally used as a substitute. Symptoms of this allergy vary from extremely mild (almost unnoticeable) to life threatening and the intensity of occurrence is unpredictable. People with a history of mild symptoms alone can also experience anaphylaxis – a life threatening reaction. Epinephrine is the first line of treatment for anaphylaxis and should be used immediately on occurrence of breathlessness, coughing, tightening of throat muscles, rashes, vomiting etc. Visiting or consulting a physician as early as possible is highly recommended.