Many people have allergies to various foods, medications, and other things like pollen and bees. Allergy symptoms vary in severity, some are life-threatening and some bring discomfort, such as hives. Here’s what gluten is and what it means to have a gluten allergy.
People can develop allergies at any age. An allergy develops when a person’s immune system mistakes a substance that is normally harmless to the body for a substance that is a threat. The body then creates antibodies that are constantly on the lookout for that allergen. When you are exposed to that allergen again, your body is ready to fight it off.
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in many different types of grains, such as wheat, barley, and rye. This protein is how bread gets fluffy and stretchy, and this is why it is more difficult to bake without using gluten.
To have a gluten allergy is for your body to identify gluten as a danger. This happens when your immune system mistakes the gluten protein for a harmful agent. Most people can ingest this protein with no problem, but in some cases, people’s immune system reacts strongly against it and this causes an allergic reaction.
A person with a gluten allergy can have several different reactions that vary in severity. Some may experience more mild effects such as mouth tingling or hives, and although these are more mild symptoms they cause the person significant discomfort and it is unhealthy for that person to ingest gluten. On the other hand, some people experience very severe reactions that can be life-threatening, such as anaphylaxis or swelling of the tongue and throat, which causes people to have difficulty breathing or stop breathing altogether.
Celiac disease is often mistaken as the same thing as having a gluten allergy or intolerance. While the symptoms and the triggers are similar, it shouldn’t be thought of as the same. Celiac disease stems from an autoimmune response. To have a gluten allergy and to have celiac disease are different body responses against the same protein, gluten.
An autoimmune disease is when your immune system attacks your body. This sound similar to an allergy, and the reactions present themselves in similar ways, but they are actually different. While an allergy causes the body to react to a harmless allergen, and in the case of an autoimmune response, tissue damage occurs.
You could say celiac is worse in a way because it causes damage to internal body tissue. When a person with celiac disease ingests gluten, their body has a strong reaction against it and treats it like a virus. When your body treats gluten like a virus, it damages your digestive system.
If you have a gluten allergy or celiac disease, it is best to steer clear of gluten completely. Luckily for those with gluten allergies or celiac diseases, the modern diet can be accommodated easier than it used to be. Awareness of gluten allergies has increased and many grocery stores have made gluten-free substitutions of your favorite foods such as pasta, and restaurants are more willing to make accommodations since substitutions have become easier.
Enjoy all of your favorite foods that require flour with tasty gluten-free flour. With this flour, you can bake your favorite cookies and more. If you are craving pizza, build your own dough and load it up with your favorite toppings.
If you are experiencing an allergic reaction, monitor your symptoms closely to make sure it’s not an emergency. We can help you diagnose these issues and learn more about what it means to have a gluten allergy.
Call MD365 at 631-772-4646 for a checkup or for a consultation. We have excellent patient-doctor relationships and we are ready to treat you! Book an appointment with us to find out about our patient-doctor relationships.