Tags: gluten | allergy | not | real | blame | internet

Gluten Allergy Not Real, Blame Internet, Specialist Docs Told

Friday, 08 Nov 2013 11:33 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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There's no such thing as a gluten allergy, an Ohio allergist told the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology on Thursday, placing blame for mistaken ailments on Internet misinformation. He repeated the charge for a national news TV audience.

Dr. David Stukus, an allergist at Nationwide Children's Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University, told NBC's "Today" show that some often mistake a "gluten" allergy for other ailments, a problem which has taken on a life of its on because of the Internet.

Stukus told "Today" there are only three disorders that can be attributed to gluten on a scientific basis – celiac disease, wheat allergies, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

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"It was shocking to me, the amount of misinformation that is available to the general public," Stukus told "Today." "Gluten has been blamed for all that ails humanity. Then there’s this claim about 'gluten allergy,' which really doesn't exist.

"It's not really a recognized allergy. Wheat is a recognized allergy — but a lot of people will misinterpret that as gluten," said Stukus

Dr. Christopher C. Chang, director of allergy and clinical immunology in the pediatrics department at Thomas Jefferson Hospitals in Philadelphia, told Philly.com that people concerned about gluten should still be careful about its intake.

"Gluten refers to a family of proteins found in the grains of wheat, barley, and rye," Chang told Philly.com. "Celiac disease is a form of gluten intolerance, but strictly speaking, it is not an allergy. It is a rather a complex immune phenomenon involving antibodies that the body produces when someone eats gluten."

"These antibodies lead to damage of the lining of the small intestine, which can affect absorption of foods and can lead to malnutrition," Chang continued.

Chang told Philly.com that wheat allergy is different from celiac disease, where "IgE" antibodies can cause symptoms unique from celiac disease.

"This type of allergy can be diagnosed with a skin test or a blood test for IgE levels to wheat," Chang told Philly.com. "In severe cases, a true wheat allergy can result in anaphylaxis. The signs are usually a rash, vomiting, abdominal pain, wheezing and/or circulatory collapse. The treatment is strict avoidance of wheat, careful reading of labels, and to have an epinephrine autoinjector with the patient at all times."

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