You can’t visit a supermarket baked goods aisle without seeing several gluten free options. Though a few years ago these items would be found only in health food stores, they are now readily available in popular stores like Wal-Mart. The number of people who consider themselves to have a gluten allergy or gluten intolerance is rising. Nearly fifteen percent of Americans have at least a mild form in gluten sensitivity.
How Can You Tell If You Have A Gluten Allergy?
Gluten allergies have a wide variety of symptoms and the condition is hard to diagnose. The most common symptoms are gastrointestinal:
While all these symptoms can be caused by a gluten allergy, they are also common to many other conditions and their presence alone is not enough to diagnose an allergy.
People with gluten allergies can also have migraines or headaches. They may also feel fatigued for no reason. Another sign could be muscle and joint pain. Gluten allergies can even cause mood swings and depression. If you have one or all of these symptoms, you could have a gluten allergy.
Rare symptoms of a gluten allergy can include infertility and menstrual cycle changes. In children, it can delay growth and development. Even an unexplained decline in the overall health of your teeth can be attributed to this allergy.
What Do You Do If You Think You Are Gluten Intolerant?
If you think you have a gluten allergy or gluten intolerance, you should see your doctor. He or she will discuss your symptoms with you and may order a blood test. This blood test will only test for one kind of gluten allergy (there are six). If the test is negative, you may be asked to do a trial gluten free diet for two to six weeks. If your symptoms improve or disappear while on the diet, it is possible that you are gluten intolerant.
A gluten free diet involves giving up all wheat and wheat products. Gluten is found in most grains, oats, breads, cereals, and rye. You will have to read labels very carefully as gluten is located in some surprising places. Visit online resources such as Celiac.com to find a complete list of gluten containing foods and their alternatives.
If you are diagnosed with a gluten allergy, the market contains hundreds of delicious alternatives to every day items. Want gluten free bread? Take a look at the Huffington Post’s taste test to get you started.
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