How do I know I have a problem with gluten?

Published: 24th September 2009
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Gluten sensitivities and intolerance and or celiac disease may be one of the biggest undiagnosed digestive disorders that exist today, masquerading as other diseases. One percent of the population in th^e United States may have celiac disease and up to five percent may have reactions to gluten. Without a biopsy, which one would want to avoid, how does one find out if he or she has a problem with gluten? I posed this question to Tina Turbin, author, researcher and founder of Gluten Free Help ( What about tests? Tina told me that, "There is no one blood or saliva/urine test to tell you, for sure, that you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. So, you can use both the available tests in combination with the symptoms to arrive at some degree of certainty as to gluten sensitivity."

People that have had Celiac disease for a prolong period, will have mal-absorption of nutrients leading to obvious, visible effects such as poor growth in finger nails and hair. Your hair may lack the normal luster, skin tone may be lacking and energy levels will be low to the point where you are easily fatigued. In addition many may have one or more of the following symptoms: weight loss, dry skin, tooth enamel defects, abdominal cramping and bloating, abdominal distention, acidosis and appetite cravings. Back pains, constipation, dehydration, diarrhea, edema, mouth sores and even reduced foot padding are also common symptoms. People have may also experience depression, a lack of disinterest in normal activities, irritability, unable to concentrate and mood changes.

As far as testing, to have any kind of accurate blood test you have to be on a diet with gluten in it. This applies to any of the blood tests. You must be ingesting gluten for any of the tests to be at all accurate because the immune system produces antibodies in response to substances that the body has determined are harmful. Tests measure the immune systems response to being exposed to gluten and its subsequent effect on the internal lining of the digestive tract. If there is no gluten in the diet, then there is no response that can be measured. Any brief change in diet, as in adding in gluten, will not have a noticeable effect on the test results. If you have been gluten-free diet for a week or so, it will also not make any great difference. On the other hand, if you have been gluten free for a protracted period of time and decide to be tested, a brief change of a couple of weeks is usually not enough to elicit an accurate test.

If you are already having severe symptoms and have taken yourself off of gluten, then adding gluten back into your diet just to get an accurate test - and having all the symptoms return - just to confirm you a have a gluten intolerance, may be self-abusive. So, if you are currently on a diet containing gluten and have any of the symptoms mentioned above, go ahead and get the tests. Without tests a positive medical diagnosis will probably not be made.

If you have already stopped eating gluten then how do you tell without tests? Well, if your abstention from eating gluten has lessoned your symptoms then you may have done the best thing for yourself anyhow. There is no known cure for Celiac disease and the only treatment that exists is abstinence from gluten. So, an early start in the application of the remedy can only help. If the symptoms do not lesson then what you have maybe something else.Red Wiseman is an avid and intelligent writer and researcher in the Humanities, Arts and Sciences. Wiseman is always on a quest to expand his horizons and those of others via his written and spoken words.

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