After reading the recent Wall Street Journal article, “New Guide to Who Really Shouldn’t Eat Gluten”, about a new proposal for a classification system for gluten-related disorders, I began to wonder about our readers. I know many readers have Celiac Disease, but surely there are others who have a gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy or may be following the gluten-free diet for other health reasons.
If you have time, the article I linked to above is a good read. It goes on the describe the new proposal that is being led by a group of 15 experts from 7 countries. Two of those experts are Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research, and Dr. Peter Green, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.
Classifying the Symptoms
Gluten-related disorders are rising around the world. One group of international experts has proposed classifying them based on the kind of defenses the body mounts.
Wheat allergy Can affect skin, gastrointestinal tract or respiratory tract
Symptoms: Hives, nasal and chest congestion, nausea, vomiting, anaphylaxis
Prevalence: Less than 1% of children, most outgrow it
Diagnosis: Blood and skin prick reveal IgE antibodies; food challenge
Treatment: Avoid wheat products
Celiac disease Antibodies to gluten damage intestinal villi needed to absorb food
Symptoms: Abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, osteoporosis, cancer; can also be asymptomatic
Prevalence: 1% of adults of European descent, up fourfold in 50 years
Diagnosis: Gene tests show HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8 variations; blood tests reveal tTGA or EMA antibodies; biopsy shows villi damage
Treatment: Strict gluten-free diet can reverse symptoms
Gluten ataxia Antibodies to gluten attack cerebellum
Symptoms: Loss of balance and coordination; few GI symptoms
Prevalence: Gluten may be the cause of ataxia in a fifth of all sufferers of the ailment
Diagnosis: Blood tests show tTG6 and AGA antibodies; brain images are abnormal
Treatment: Gluten-free diet may stabilize ataxia but some damage may be irreversible
Gluten Sensitivity Gluten may trigger a primitive immune defense
Symptoms: similar to celiac disease without villi damage; foggy thinking, mood swings
Diagnosis: Rule out celiac disease and wheat allergies; possible AGA antibodies in blood; symptoms ease when avoiding gluten
Treatment: Avoiding gluten, though small amounts on occasion may not cause problems
If only it was simple, right? The article goes on to describe some of the confusion involved in testing and diagnosis.
So, my question to you all is: What ails you? Please participate in the poll below & take the time to discuss in the comments section below. What do you think the benefit of having a classification system would be, if any?