Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How do you find out if you are allergic to gluten?"
What are the symptoms of a gluten allergy? My sister is convinced that I have stomach aches because I'm allergic to wheat, but I think its just indigestion. How else would I know if I had this allergy? I know that gluten is in a lot of foods.
This is an excellent question, especially because recent studies suggest that gluten intolerance--otherwise known as celiac disease--is actually much more common than previously appreciated. Patients with celiac disease will have a range of syptoms after ingesting products containing wheat. The most common presentation is a large volume of watery diarrhea, in particular stools that are high-volume, rather malodorous, and usually pale in appearance. This specific type of appearance is a result of the malabsorbtion that occurs with celiac disease. Patients will also typically suffer from abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, and even sometimes oral ulcers. Celiac disease can present early in life or later in adolescence or adulthood. If you are having significant abdominal complaints, the best thing to do is see your physician for a more thorough history and exam. Your doctor will want to talk to you more about your symptoms and do a complete exam. The definitive determination of whether or not a person has celiac disease involves blood testing and sometimes an upper GI endoscopy with biopsies. In addition, many physicians will also empirically start someone with suspected celiac disease on a gluten-free diet. If it helps dramatically, that can be good evidence that gluten is the problem. It sounds like the best place for you to start is with your primary physician. Best of luck!
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