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Date of last update: 10/15/2017.

Forum Name: Gastroenterology Topics

Question: Gluten Sensitivity

 elleski - Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:42 pm

I have been having stomach bloating 30-40 minutes after I eat and really mild hives at times, for the past few years or so. After seeing my doctor, he recommended a sensitivity to gluten and I soon went to see an allergist. She did the scratch test for gluten as well as other foods and luckily, everything came back negative. She dismissed it as stress or possibly psychological. So, I went on my way eating a healthy, but non-restricted diet.

I am an athlete and have no family history of disease, but still the annoying bloating and sometimes random joint pain. On our own, we decided to experiment and try a gluten-free diet to see what would happen. Bloating disappeared, I have more energy than ever, and the random joint pain is gone. Although, this lifestyle is taxing at times and completely a pain, having to look at every label and food menu before going out to eat.

After kind of feeling like a fool at my previous allergy appointment, I am afraid to go back. What would you suggest?

Thank you.
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Sun Aug 08, 2010 1:13 am

Hello elleski,

Gluten allergy and wheat allergy are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Gluten intolerance is almost always due to an autoimmune condition called Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease can occur at any time during the life span. The cardinal diagnostic tool is the elimination diet, in which gluten and gluten-associated foods are eliminated from the diet for a significant period of time, using careful record keeping to compare symptoms before the elimination diet to those during the elimination diet. Many physicians are not fully acquainted with Celiac Disease, simply because it is not within the area of their specialty. Many people with gluten intolerance, or Celiac Disease, test negative for allergy or even for the disease, since testing is somewhat ambiguous.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease usually presents with intermittent diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating. There may also be irritability or depression, anemia, stomach upsets, joint pain, muscle cramps, skin rash, mouth sores, dental and bone disorders (as osteoporosis), and/or neuropathy (tingling in legs and feet). Malabsorption may also include weight loss, gas and bloating, cramps, and general weakness and fatigue.

From what you describe, it seems worth discussing with your doctor, and perhaps seeing a rheumatologist, who specializes in autoimmune conditions, or to someone specializing in malabsorption syndromes, if available in your area; most are found in University medical centers. A consultation with a dietician can be invaluable, since gluten is so pervasive in our usual foods. General Mills has over 250 gluten-free products available alone, and health food stores often have gluten-free products available. A useful website is

I hope this information is helpful to you, and that you are able to determine the exact nature of your gluten intolerance. Good luck to you.

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