Do you experience gas, bloating, diarrhea, or other gastrointestinal-related symptoms after eating? You may be gluten-sensitive. Here, we delve into what may cause gluten sensitivity and some of the most common symptoms.
What Is Gluten Sensitivity?
Gluten sensitivity is more common than you may think. It involves adverse reactions to gluten, a naturally occurring protein found in wheat and other grains such as barley and rye. It’s also found in foods such as cereal, pasta, and beer, as well as in cosmetics and medications. There are many causes of gluten sensitivity and widespread symptoms, some of which have nothing to do with digestion.
Are Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease the Same?
Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity cause a lot of the same symptoms, but they are not the same thing. Celiac disease results from an abnormal gene that produces high levels of antibodies in the blood. This creates an autoimmune response to gluten, signaling the body to fight against the protein as if it was a virus. This can cause inflammation and damage to the digestive tracts. It can also cause non-gastronomic symptoms, including anemia, osteoporosis, skin rashes, mouth ulcers, numbness and tingling in the feet and hands, joint pain, and more.
What Causes Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity?
The exact causes of non-celiac gluten sensitivity are not fully understood, and there are no scientific ways to test for it. However, some research shows that people may not be sensitive to gluten but to a specific carbohydrate in many foods we consume. Other research suggests that wheat affects the lining of some people’s digestive tracts, which keeps bacteria from leaking out of their intestines into the liver or blood.
How Is Gluten Sensitivity Diagnosed?
People with gluten sensitivity may experience constipation, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue, nausea, and headaches. Other symptoms include muscle and joint pain, anxiety or depression, or confusion. To diagnose gluten sensitivity, your doctor will first perform a blood test to ensure you don’t have a wheat allergy or celiac disease. In some cases, other tests like an endoscopy may be necessary. Once they confirm that you don’t have either, gluten sensitivity can be considered.
The most common method people use to determine if they’re gluten-sensitive is to remove gluten from their diet and monitor any changes in symptoms. It helps to keep a food diary to record what foods are consumed and what symptoms are experienced.