Gluten, a large protein found in wheat, barley and rye, is present in many prepared foods but for some people gluten can cause a variety of health problems. A gluten allergy can range from mild to severe; an individual may suffer from some moderate digestive issue with a minor gluten allergy, while another person with a severe gluten allergy may suffer from celiac disease, which can permanently damage the intestines and prevent the absorption of nutrients. No matter the severity of a gluten allergy, it is important to treat the condition in order to reduce or eliminate the health issues it causes.

Gluten allergies can be hard to diagnose because it causes a wide variety of symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms of a gluten allergy include diarrhea, stomach cramps, constipation, fatigue, joint inflammation, headaches, bloating, weight loss, and nutritional deficiencies in severe cases. Since the symptoms of gluten allergy are broad, many people live with the condition for years before getting a diagnosis and beginning treatment.

The most common and effective way to treat a gluten allergy is through an elimination diet. During an elimination diet, a person ceases to consume any food that has gluten in it for an extended amount of time. The difficulty with an elimination diet is the fact that gluten is present in many prepared foods. When a person is prescribed an elimination diet to treat a gluten allergy, it is important to closely read all labels in order to find unexpected ingredients that may contain gluten. During the early stages of a gluten-free elimination diet, many people find it easiest to prepare their food at home with ingredients that are known to be gluten-free.

When diagnosed with a gluten allergy, it is important for a person to educate him or herself about which ingredients have gluten, and what food products contain gluten. Most people know that things like bread, pancakes, cookies, or other foods with flour contain gluten, but gluten can also be found in foods like soy sauce, salad dressings, ice cream, hot dogs, sliced deli meat, BBQ sauce, and yogurt. Luckily, many people have adopted a gluten-free diet so lots of grocery stores, specialty markets, and online retailers sell a wide range of ingredients and food products that are completely gluten-free and safe to eat if you have a gluten allergy.

An individual with a gluten allergy should be cautious when going out to eat at a restaurant. Ideally, it is best to frequent restaurants that feature a gluten-free menu or offer gluten-free options when dining out. In the event that there is not a gluten-free menu, let the restaurant know about your gluten allergy, and avoid dishes that have sauces or dressings on them. Many people treating a gluten allergy with a strict gluten-free elimination diet find it helpful to carry their own gluten free condiments and salad dressings so they can enjoy dining out without unintentionally consuming a food containing gluten.

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Author's Bio: 

Brian Wu graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology and Neurobiology. Currently, he holds a PhD and is an MD candidate (KSOM, USC) in integrative biology and disease. He is also an experienced writer and editor for many prestigious web pages. Brian values the ability of all ages to learn from the power of stories. His mission is to write about health conditions, educational topics and life situations in an entertaining way in order to help children understand their own life conditions and daily circumstances.