Gluten is found in several common foods including pasta, cakes, cereals, bread and sauces. It is estimated that roughly 1 in 100 people in the UK have gluten intolerance (also known as non-coeliac gluten sensitivity), which can lead to symptoms such as bloating, excess gas, cramping and diarrhoea. Unlike coeliac disease, this condition cannot cause your immune system to attack itself and cause long-term damage. However, the symptoms of gluten sensitivity can be unpleasant and should be addressed to improve your quality of life.
Besides testing for coeliac’s disease, the only way to determine gluten intolerance is to talk to your GP about an elimination diet. At Midland Health, we offer advice about foods containing gluten, ways to substitute or avoid them, and can help plan your way to a more comfortable life.
Gluten Intolerance Symptoms
If you experience gastrointestinal symptoms after you have eaten food that contains gluten, you may be suffering from gluten intolerance. Some common signs to keep an eye out for include:
- Mild stomach pain & diarrhoea
- Bloating, gas and constipation
There could be other, less common symptoms of gluten intolerance, such as headaches, confusion and joint and muscle pain. Many of these symptoms can also be caused by gluten allergy (coeliac disease), so if you suspect you may be feeling unwell because of eating gluten, you should rule out a food allergy with a coeliac disease test.
Gluten Intolerance vs Coeliac Disease
Since coeliac disease (gluten allergy) and gluten intolerance (sensitivity) both result in unpleasant symptoms after eating foods that contain gluten, you may find differentiating between the two to be confusing. To help you better understand the difference, here are the main points that put the two apart:
- Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease and gluten intolerance is not
- Gluten allergy, unlike gluten sensitivity, causes damage to the lining of the small intestines
- Coeliac disease causes more severe symptoms, including anaphylaxis and even death; gluten intolerance doesn’t
- The symptoms of gluten allergy can have long-term effects while the symptoms of gluten sensitivity are only short-term
Also, there are some less common symptoms of coeliac disease that are NOT usually associated with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. Those include itchy skin, mouth ulcers and seizures.
Gluten Intolerance Test, Diagnosis & Treatment
Diagnosing gluten intolerance isn’t as straightforward as diagnosing coeliac disease. While a blood test can indicate that you have a gluten allergy or an allergy to wheat (the two conditions most commonly confused with gluten sensitivity), gluten intolerance can only be diagnosed via a process of elimination.
Here’s how we can help:
- GP Consultation: One of our experienced GPs will have a face-to-face consultation with you where they will discuss your symptoms, your medical history and your diet to set out the best course of action and prescribe any additional tests if necessary
- Allergy Testing: If it is suspected that you may be suffering from celiac disease, you could be prescribed various allergy testing to rule out or confirm the diagnosis
- Trial Elimination Diet: If you are not allergic to gluten but you still show signs of gluten sensitivity, our doctors can design and oversee a plan to remove and reintroduce glutenous products into your diet to find out whether it causes any symptoms and what amounts of gluten (if any) you can eat without experiencing an unwanted reaction
It is crucial to see a doctor and get the correct diagnosis as coeliac disease can be a life-threatening condition, so it must be ruled out before you begin any gluten intolerance treatment. The good news is that gluten sensitivity can be managed successfully with the correct diet.
Why choose Midland Health
If you are looking for fast and easy access to specialist medical advice, Midland Health is the place to go. With clinics located in central Birmingham, Liverpool and Leicester, we are easily accessible from all areas of the Midlands and we welcome all new patients.
We have a team of GPs and specialists in various medical fields, which means that if you need to be referred to a specialist, you won’t have to wait months to do so. We have the capacity to offer face-to-face appointments on short notice, even same-day appointments (based on availability).
If you think you may be suffering from gluten intolerance, get in touch with us today, book an appointment with one of our medical experts and find out what is really happening with your body.
How do you find out if you are gluten intolerant?
If you notice a pattern of feeling unwell a few hours after eating foods containing gluten, you should consult with a doctor who will be able to advise you on whether this could be caused by gluten intolerance.
Can I suddenly become gluten intolerant?
Yes, gluten intolerance can manifest itself at any stage of your life, even if you have experienced no gluten sensitivity so far.
Can a GP test for gluten intolerance?
A GP can’t test directly for gluten intolerance but they can explore your symptoms and your medical history to make a hypothesis which can then be tested with an elimination diet. If an allergy is suspected, you are likely to be referred for further testing.
Is there a test for gluten intolerance?
The best way to test for gluten intolerance is to rule out other gluten-related conditions by doing various allergy tests. Then you can confirm the gluten sensitivity diagnosis and its severity by implementing a trial elimination diet.
What is a food diary and do I need one?
If you suspect you might have a gluten intolerance or gluten allergy, it is a good idea to keep a food diary where you list the foods that have caused a reaction, what the symptoms were and when they occurred. This could help our GPs make the correct diagnosis faster.
- Tissue Transglutaminase IgA (Coeliac Screen) - £52*
- Gluten Allergy Profile Blood Test - £277*
- Phlebotomy Appointment - £35
- Standard GP Consultation (30 min) - £120
- Express GP Consultation (15 min) - £60
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