Gluten sensitivity is the most common food allergy in the world but besides the symptoms the only way to know for sure is to take a gluten intolerance test.
In some form it is thought to affect 6% of the world’s population. Gluten intolerance can manifest in a whole spectrum of different ways, some people may never even know they have a gluten sensitivity. In severe cases gluten intolerance can manifest as Coeliac’s disease, an autoimmune condition, that can manifest as chronic stomach problems. Gluten is a protein found in many products but it is in the highest concentrations in those made with wheat such a bread and pasta. It is also found in other grain species such as barley and rye. The only treatment for a gluten intolerance in any form is to consume a gluten free diet and in more severe cases this can be a lifelong thing.
Some of the gluten intolerance symptoms that manifest after eating products containing gluten are bloating, cramping, headaches or migraines, lethargy or muscle pain.
Constipation, diarrhea, vomiting and even osteoporosis are also common problems in more severe cases. Even ingesting small amounts of gluten can damage a patients health if their reaction is severe enough. Coeliac’s disease actually damages the lining of the intestine irreparably in severe cases when gluten is consumed. Some people may never experience any form of severe symptom and may just feel fatigued more often than their counterparts. Misdiagnosis is also fairly common with many patients being diagnosed with IBS or Irritable Bowl Syndrome instead, or simply brushing off their symptoms as something else such as bad food or menstrual problems.
The only way to really know if you have this is to take a gluten sensitivity test of some form.
Usually to be absolutely certain that you have the disease it is best to go get a test administered by a doctor. They may also do a larger allergy panel to see if you have any other food intolerance such as a lactose intolerance test. When at the doctors they will ask you questions about your symptoms and why you feel that it is a gluten issue. It is unlikely that out of the blue you will suddenly decide you have a gluten problem so chances are you took a gluten intolerance test online or took a gluten intolerance quiz and recognized some of the symptoms. That is a perfectly acceptable jumping off point, and though your doctor may not appreciate your jumping to a self diagnosis it will also explain where you are coming from. If you have other allergies or intolerance there is also a greater chance for finding out this is the case and you may be more aware of symptoms. As noted this is an easily misdiagnosed disease so being certain before taking drastic measures, such as cutting gluten from your diet, is a good idea.
Gluten intolerance tests can be administered in a number of ways.
Usually a gluten intolerance blood test is administered at the doctors to find out for certain if you have a gluten problem. Genetic testing is used less often but is extremely accurate in diagnosing gluten sensitivity issues. The genetic test will see if the HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 genes are present, indicating an inability to process gluten. If a person has these genes they are highly likely to develop the more severe gluten intolerance Coeliac’s disease. However if the genes are not present it is almost impossible for the person to develop Coeliac’s. Other tests can involve a small intestine biopsy to see if there is damage to the villi, small finger-like projections that help with absorption. This is the only way to be absolutely certain of a Coeliac’s diagnosis.
Without having your own personal laboratory to perform the analysis you will not be able to do the same thing at home.
Fortunately many companies offer gluten testing kits available online. These kits will vary from using a mixture of saliva and stool samples sent to a company for analysis or a small amount of blood from your fingertip after consuming gluten. The fingertip test measures (anti-tTG) IgA antibodies found in the blood and the test will usually take around 10 minutes. The small sample of blood is mixed with a buffer solution and mixed in a test cartridge. The solution is applied to a card, similar to the type used in a home pregnancy test, and after waiting the required time the result can be read. Usually the test will have 1 control line that will always appear if the test is performed correctly followed by an additional line if you are having a reaction to the gluten. If the test results are positive it is suggested that you consult with a doctor to confirm the diagnosis.
Gluten sensitivity may be called the new Hollywood fad by some, but this is a real disease with real patients who suffer.
Though many may not have to give up gluten to live a normal life in the more severe cases they may have no other choice. With such a high percentage of sufferers that never experience any drastic symptoms it is easy to see why many disregard this as an endemic issue. Performing a gluten intolerance test of some form is the only way to know for certain that you do not suffer from this or any other allergy.