Authored by Darlene Zagata in Diseases
Published on 08-18-2009
Gluten intolerance is a condition in which a person has a physical reaction when gluten contained in grains such as wheat are ingested. Some individuals have sensitivity to gluten, which is a protein found in most grain based products. There is no cure for gluten intolerance although the symptoms can be managed.
Symptoms of gluten intolerance can range from uncomfortable to severe and often include gas, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. There are a wide range of symptoms that may accompany gluten intolerance which can make the condition difficult to diagnose. Headaches, weight loss or gain, depression, fatigue and muscle or joint pain may also result from gluten intolerance. Diagnosis usually involves blood antibody tests to determine the presence of a gluten sensitivity. Stool analysis and other tests may also be done for confirmation. Although gluten sensitivity is a genetic disorder, there are certain risk factors such as heredity. The chance of having the condition is greater if a parent is gluten intolerant. Environmental factors may also play a role in the development of gluten sensitivity, especially if the individual is genetically predisposed.
Gluten is commonly found in many products such as bread and cereals so a person could suffer from gluten intolerance and eat foods containing gluten on a daily basis. The most obvious solution for someone who suffers from gluten intolerance is to avoid foods that contain the protein. Most people would probably assume that a gluten free diet would be rather difficult since it would affect the consumption of any grain based food, but there are many products available that are gluten free or low in gluten.
Symptoms usually improve within a few weeks of starting a gluten free diet and may disappear entirely after a few months. It is necessary to remain on a gluten free diet otherwise symptoms will return. A physician should monitor the condition especially in children since they may suffer from delayed development and nutritional deficiencies. Some physicians may recommend taking a vitamin supplement.
If you find it difficult to create meals and follow a gluten free diet, it can be beneficial to enlist the services of a dietician. She can help you develop a meal plan that is both fits your dietary needs and meets nutritional requirements. You should also make others aware of your special dietary needs when going out for dinner at the homes of friends, relatives or even restaurants. The same should be done for children of school age. You may want to consider packing lunches for the kids so that you can be assured they are gluten free. If your child stays over at a friend’s house, talk to the parents before the stay over or other event to make them aware of your child’s special dietary needs. You may have to take a few extra steps and precautions in order to ensure a gluten free diet but it is necessary to protect your health or the health of your child.