Gluten has become a more widely discussed topic in recent years. The line between perceived and actual gluten intolerance has grown ever so blurry. People are more aware of their health, and while this is a good thing, it sometimes leads to an exaggeration- such as with the growing population of people with poor gluten tolerance. This is not to say that there is no allergy to gluten.
Perhaps what should dominate this topic is its effect on children. A gluten allergy can be distressing, seeing how many of the foods we have that contain it. And its symptoms, if triggered, are not easy to deal with. The discerning parent should know to investigate the allergy before it presents itself.
Gluten is a protein which is found in grains, like oats and wheat. It is usually added in the manufacturing process for wheat-based products. Ingesting packaged or processed foods can lead to an ingestion of higher amounts of gluten than you would have if you stuck to natural foods. This can consequently lead to lower glucose intolerance or an allergy.
Identifying Gluten Allergy
There is no easy or cheap way of testing for this allergy, so you will have to abide by a checklist to identify any displayed signs of intolerance.
- Know the risk factors– For a child that has other allergies, the chances of being able to tolerate gluten is really low. This risk increases if they particularly have protein allergies, and if they are young. Age is a big factor.
- Track after-meal reactions– Allergies trigger a hypersensitivity reaction and it does not take long for the symptoms to show up. That said, you should check for both immediate ones- such as anaphylaxis, to delayed ones, such as eczema.
- Know the symptoms– besides the above two, other symptoms of allergy include headaches, fatigue, and gastrointestinal disturbances, such as diarrhea, joint pain, and agitation.
You should especially check for any respiratory symptoms. Anaphylaxis has to be addressed immediately, since the outcome worsens with delay. Any signs of labored breathing, swelling in mouth or throat should necessitate a visit to the ER.
Dermatological symptoms, such as hives, spots, or a rash, after eating gluten are fairly conclusive of an allergy.
An appointment with a physician, ideally an allergist, is recommended. They can be able to test for the allergy and reach a definitive diagnosis. This is important to rule out any serious conditions, such as celiac disease.
Life without Gluten
Your child can live free of gluten if they have an allergy to it. It takes a bit more effort since your food choices are somewhat limited, as are your eating locations, but many people have found life still as fulfilling after going totally gluten free.
Those with only intolerance to gluten and not a full-blown allergy may be able to eat gluten again, but there is no guaranteed outcome. It’s usually better to avoid it altogether.
There are many gluten-free diets and recipes offered online, so there is really a life without gluten.