If you are parent or doctor, you need to understand how gluten allergy symptoms in children are nothing to ignore. More and more children are being tested each year and the number of kids suffering from celiac disease and related gluten intolerance is growing. In this article we’ll discuss the difference between celiac disease and gluten allergy symptoms. I will also provide you with a specific list of these symptoms to watch for in your child.
Gluten Allergy Symptoms vs. Celiac Disease Symptoms
When researching this topic it’s important to first note the difference between gluten allergies and gluten intolerance (also known as celiac disease). Celiac disease is a disease that strikes the intestines. When exposed to gluten, a person with celiac disease has an autoimmune reaction, attacking intestinal villi (tiny finger-like hairs along the intestinal wall) and causing the small intestines to become irritated and swell. The swelling over time damages the intestines in such a way that nutrition is no longer able to be absorbed. Long term consequences of untreated celiac disease symptoms can be dire. In some cases, celiac disease can be life threatening.
Allergies are unlike celiac disease in that there is no autoimmune response. Instead, like most allergic reactions, there is a histamine reaction instead. Note that while wheat allergies are fairly common, gluten allergies are less likely to occur without the condition eventually being diagnosed as celiac disease. That said, there are a growing number of people who are tested who don’t clinically have celiac disease yet they still have many of the symptoms associated with celiac disease. For the purposes of this article, we’ll use the term gluten allergy to indicate a gluten intolerance of the autoimmune variety rather than a traditional allergy brought on by a histamine response via a type 1 hypersensitivity.
Please note that in some cases when discussing this matter with doctors or on an internet forum, people may use the term gluten allergy to refer to both a gluten intolerance and a wheat allergy. I know this is confusing; I encourage you to read my Gluten Intolerance Symptoms, and my gluten allergy definition articles to come to full grasp of this difficult and delicate matter.
Gluten Allergy Symptoms in Children
Children can be difficult to diagnose as many traditional doctors do not immediately think of gluten intolerance as an issue in children. If you’re concerned that your child may be suffering from a gluten allergy, here are a few symptoms to watch for:
- Abdominal bloating and cramping
- Chronic, itchy rash (Dermatitis Herpetiformis)
- Digestive issues such as diarrhea or constipation
- Failure to Thrive
- Gray, Floating Stools
- Weight loss
While these are the most common symptoms, I encourage you to peruse the rest of my site for other symptoms that may be associated with celiac disease, gluten intolerance or a wheat allergy symptoms. In particular, I have a comprehensive essay on celiac disease symptoms in children.
Discuss Your Child’s Gluten Allergy Symptoms With Your Doctor
As with any serious medical condition, it’s a good idea to discuss your concerns with your family physician as soon as possible. While researching celiac disease, gluten allergies and gluten intolerance online can help you determine whether or not you have cause for concern, only a qualified doctor can make a true diagnosis. In addition to diagnosing the underlying problem your physician can be a great resource for treatment options. It may at first seem like a difficult journey when you realize you must raise children with celiac disease or face gluten intolerance in children; you don’t need to go it alone.
Getting An Accurate Diagnosis
There are a few blood tests that can be done to test whether or not your child has celiac disease. While not typically performed on children, there is also a intestinal biopsy that is easy to administer which can also aid in a diagnosis of celiac disease. There are also blood tests that can be done to determine food allergies. Both of these types of tests will be helpful if your child is suffering from a gluten reaction of any kind. Essentially, you start with a genetic test to determine if your child has the genetic predisposition for celiac disease. Then you do a blood test to test for raised antibodies. Since this can be inconclusive, an intestinal biopsy and a stool lipid test may be required to determine the extend of the gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
A separate allergy test should be conducted with an allergy specialist for traditional histamine response to wheat and other common allergens. To read more about testing, I encourage you treat my article, Gluten Intolerance Test.
Treating Symptoms Of A Gluten Allergy
The best and really only known effective treatment for wheat or gluten allergies, gluten intolerance and celiac disease is to follow a strict gluten-free diet. This means removing all gluten containing grains (wheat, barley, rye, spelt and because of North American manufacturing practices Oats as well) and products made from these grains from your diet. In addition, you will need to start monitoring labels for gluten, as it is often used as a filler or binder in products such as barbecue sauces and vitamin supplements.
I also recommend integrating gluten-free enzymes, probiotic supplements and vitamin D into your diet. Vitamin D is one of the first vitamin deficiencies associated with gluten intolerance and more and more research seems to indicate a change in intestinal bacteria is associated with people suffering from many autoimmune diseases (not just celiac disease). But none of these are a replacement for a strict gluten-free diet, which is a must. They are just a supplement to help with recovery. As I mention in my gluten allergy symptoms in adults article, you might have a blood panel done to help you determine any vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
While this may sound daunting at first, after a short period of time you’ll soon discover how many gluten-free products are now on the market. With a positive attitude and a willingness to explore new foods you will find that living gluten free is not as difficult as you first imagined.
When children experience symptoms of a gluten allergy, it may indicate a serious condition. But be careful about jumping on the gluten-free diet bandwagon without purpose. If your child has a legitimate case of gluten intolerance, he or she can still thrive. By following a strict gluten-free diet you can eliminate all of the associated symptoms and you or your child can live a healthy, happy life.