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Gluten Allergy: Treatment for Celiac Disease in New Jersey

Located in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, the Digestive Health & Nutrition Center, led by gastroenterologist Angela Merlo, M.D., treats patients in and around Trenton and Princeton for Celiac Disease.

What is Gluten?

You have probably heard and read a lot about gluten recently, and may have wondered if you have a gluten allergy. Gluten is a type of component found in carbohydrates such as wheat, rye and barley that may cause certain symptoms in those with an intolerance or allergy. Gluten is generally safe for most people. However, there is a small percentage of people who experience a range of symptoms when they ingest gluten, and must cut it out of their diet.

What is Celiac Disease?

There is a big difference between someone with an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten and those who have a gluten allergy, or Celiac Disease. Gluten proteins consist of multiple components that create a molecular bond, including glutenin and gliadin. Many different types of foods contain gluten, including oats, wheat, and barley. Celiac Disease is caused when the small intestine is hypersentive to gluten, triggering an immune response. Those with Celiac Disease (gluten allergy) often experience side effects when they ingest gluten, including stomach cramps or pain, vomiting, and headaches.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease in Children

Children typically experience the same symptoms when they suffer from a gluten allergy as adults do. Kids may suddenly develop a gluten allergy after safely eating foods containing gluten in the past. Stomach pain, long-lasting diarrhea, and vomiting are all signs of an allergy in kids. Doctors often check for a gluten allergy in children who experience sudden and unexplained weight loss as well.

Gluten allergies are more serious in children than in adults. Children need to eat the right nutrients, vitamins and minerals to develop strong bones and a healthy digestive system. Doctors will often examine children and look for signs of celiac disease. This disease or a gluten allergy can keep children from absorbing the nutrients that they need for healthy development.

If your child suffers from a gluten allergy, you can begin removing foods that contain gluten from his or her diet. Kids with allergies who keep eating gluten-rich foods may develop oral hygiene problems, anemia, and other medical conditions, and they are often below their peers in terms of both height and weight.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease in Adults

The most common sign of a gluten allergy in adults is one or more stomach problems. These problems may include water retention and changes in bowel movements. As adults can experience these problems for other reasons, they must speak to Dr. Merlo and undergo allergy testing.

Celiac disease is a type of gluten allergy that causes a number of different symptoms. Sufferers often experience migraines and other less intensive headaches and have problems with coordination when they are exposed to gluten. Left undiagnosed, those suffering from celiac disease may develop serious and permanent problems and damage to their bodies. Doctors can test for celiac disease and help treat patients suffering from the disease.

A gluten allergy can force the GI tract to expel food faster without properly breaking down those foods and absorbing nutrients. This can reduce the density of bones, put pressure on the joints and cause issues with the heart. Recent research found that gluten allergies affect more parts of the body than just the stomach and GI tract.

Gluten Allergy vs. Gluten Intolerance

Though a food allergy can cause a host of different symptoms, an intolerance to a certain food or ingredient may cause similar symptoms. The biggest difference between an allergy and an intolerance is the severity of the symptoms. Those with an allergy to gluten may face life-changing symptoms after ingesting gluten. Someone with an intolerance will experience mild to severe symptoms. Those with a gluten intolerance can usually reduce their symptoms when they reduce the amount of gluten in their diets.

A Gluten-Free Diet

The most common source of gluten in the country is wheat, and you might find yourself surprised at how many foods contain wheat. Everything from your favorite breakfast cereal to the beer you drink with friends may contain wheat and/or trace amounts of gluten. Many manufacturers now produce bread, rice, pasta and other carbohydrate-heavy products with no gluten. Fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat and dairy products lack any gluten, and you can enjoy unprocessed nuts and beans without worrying about ingesting gluten.

Residents living in or around Trenton or Princeton, New Jersey who suffer from gluten allergies should see a specialist in adult and pediatric gastroenterology. Contact the Digestive Health & Nutrition Center in Lawrenceville today to set up an appointment.