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Nine out of 10 Patients Don’t Know They Are Gluten Sensitive

February 05, 2016  |  Difficulty: Easy

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About one to three percent of the world's population has celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder characterized by sensitivity to gluten. In fact, the percentage might be much higher because this disease often goes undiagnosed.

Estimated by physicians, nine out of 10 patients who complain about general discomfort have no idea they are gluten sensitive. For such people more problems may arise because many studies conclude that colon cancer and other diseases are likely to occur in as much as 40 percent of people with untreated celiac disease. Sometimes the gluten intolerance symptoms are ignored and, in some cases, it has no outward symptoms at all. Patients with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten because it damages the inner lining of their small intestine and prevents it from absorbing nutrients.

The reason celiac disease is difficult to diagnose is because it affects people differently. General symptoms can include bloating, gas, stomach pain, diarrhea, weight loss or gain, headaches, bone pain, constant fatigue or weakness, and anemia. Skin rash - Keratosis Pilaris - is commonly found on the backs of arms and thighs and is the result of the fatty acid deficiency caused by gluten damage in the gut.

For children, symptoms include a failure to thrive, short stature, distended abdomen, dental enamel defects, and unusual behavioral changes. There is also a skin form of celiac disease called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), which appears as an itchy, blistering rash.

Diagnosis is made through a series of blood tests, followed by a biopsy of the small bowel to see if the absorbing lining is damaged. Dermatitis hespetiformis can be diagnosed through a special skin biopsy and it is also treated with a gluten-free diet.

Resistance of the Cereal Allergens Can Be Increased by Baking

Gluten is the stretchy protein that makes bread fluffy, pie crusts crisp, and provides the shape for pastry. Specifically, “gluten” is the general name for the mixture of proteins found in grains, such as wheat, barley, rye, and oats. Cereals, like any other allergens, are termostabile; therefore, heat treatment won’t have any effect. On top of that, if baked, allergen resistance can increase in the digestive tract.

What to Avoid

If diagnosed with celiac disease, the No. 1 thing you have to do is remove gluten from your diet. With a rise in awareness about celiac disease, this is actually far easier today than it was in the past. Gluten-free products are available anywhere and not just limited to health food or specialty stores. People with celiac disease need to avoid foods with the following ingredients on their label: wheat, barley, rye, bulgur, durum, farina, graham flour, malt, kamut, semolina, and triticale. Always study the labels because many food additives, such as malt flavoring, modified food starch, and others include gluten. Some medications and vitamins also contain gluten as a binding agent.

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