Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It is poorly digested by humans, and can easily collect in the crevices of the intestinal wall. Gluten sensitivity should not be confused with a wheat allergy, which may have nothing to do with gluten related immune reactions. Although both conditions are disorders of the immune system, wheat allergies are often outgrown by the age of three to five years old. Some studies estimate the percentage of undiagnosed (or misdiagnosed) gluten intolerance patients may be as high as 83%, with sufferers often experiencing symptoms for ten years before an appropriate diagnosis is made. Though, some symptoms of gluten intolerance such as diarrhea, cramps, and nausea might mimic a wheat allergy. Gluten intolerant people may also experience delayed symptoms such as headache, joint pain, numbness, and so-called “brain fog”.
Severe gluten intolerance (celiac disease) is a lifelong and chronic disorder, that causes damage to the intestinal wall and also results in dental abnormalities. It is infamously problematic to diagnose, considering that its symptoms closely resemble those of a number of other gastrointestinal disorders, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, intestinal infections, and lactose intolerance. While specific blood tests can be helpful in reaching a diagnosis, the most accurate diagnostic tool is an intestinal biopsy. Treatment possibilities are incredibly limited, and implementing a gluten-free diet is by far the best approach to diminish or eliminate the complications associated with gluten intolerance.