Gluten sensitivity has only been recently recognized as a stand-alone condition. It is a different condition to celiac disease, and is a constant cause of controversy.
Diagnosing gluten sensitivity isn’t an easy task. It is therefore not certain on how many people have it, with estimates on 6 to 7 percent of the population. It is also not clear whether the condition actually damages your organs, or simply causes unpleasant symptoms. Regardless, there is enough evidence to suggest that gluten alone causes problems for some people. These symptoms can occur in both adults and children, and should be given attention.
Does your child have symptoms of faecal incontinence? Read our tips on looking after an incontinent child.
How Does it Differ from Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity have similar symptoms, and can therefore be hard to distinguish. What makes them different is invisible to the eye. It is down to what happens inside the body when gluten is consumed. People with a gluten sensitivity experience a direct reaction to gluten. If you have gluten sensitivity, your body views the protein as an invader and fights with inflammation. This occurs both inside and outside of your digestive tract. With celiac disease on the other hand, gluten triggers your immune system to attack its own tissues. In contrast to gluten sensitivity, your immune system doesn't mount a direct attack against gluten.
Advances have been made in the medical industry to help us diagnose each condition. In February 2012, Dr Fasano recommended a diagnostic algorithm that determines which condition you have. This involves taking a celiac disease blood test. If this test comes back negative, you are recommended a gluten challenge. This works as an elimination diet, eliminating gluten from your diet to see if your symptoms go away.
Signs of Gluten Sensitivity in Children
It is common for children to have occasional nausea and sickness. However, you should take note when symptoms become frequent and are associated with eating gluten foods. Common symptoms in children include the following:
- Frequent stomach pains
- Diarrhea and constipation
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unexplained fatigue
- Faecal incontinence
- Join pain
- Muscle pain
Children’s Faecal Incontinence Product Recommendations
- Pack of 22
- Flexible Shape
- Provide the comfort of normal underwear
- For moderate faecal incontinence
- Pack of 32
- Four re-sealable fixation tapes
- Textile like back sheet
- For heavy faecal incontinence
- Pack of 14
- Comfortable body-close fit
- Soft and stretchy material
- For moderate to heavy faecal incontinence
- Pack of 30
- Curved leg elastics
- Plastic backing
- For heavier faecal incontinence
The Common Struggle for Parents
Due to a lack of knowledge and discussion on gluten sensitivity, the diagnosis process for your child can be complicated. Many parents panic and assume the worst, or simply accept a negative celiac blood test result. Now a cook, Lisa describes her confusing journey when her daughter started having celiac disease symptoms. She explains, “my daughter would wake up sobbing and have cramps that would come and go”. After seeing a Doctor, she was told her daughter was constipated. She was told to give her daughter two laxatives a day, which only made the problem worse and caused more symptoms. Stomach pains, chronic vomiting, alternating constipation and diarrhea continued. After noticing her daughter got ill after eating bread or pasta, she demanded a celiac test from a Doctor. To her shock, the test came back negative. She claims, “I was deflated. I just had that mother’s, intuition, gluten was her problem”. After starting her on a gluten free diet, the stomach pains got better. During holidays and special events, Lisa admits she became relaxed about the diet. The pains came back and her symptoms became to resurface. After booking another appointment, the Doctor agreed that Lisa daughter did have a gluten sensitivity. She also had sensitivity to dairy and most grains. Lisa claims that her family works to help Raegan feel accepted and happy. She asserts, “We added to our arsenal of cookbooks with recipes that support her needs. We have even discussed throwing Raegan a Gluten Free Party!” To other parents in the same position, she insists, “I encourage you to keep searching. Trust your instincts”.
Taking your Child to a Doctor
Ask a Doctor to give your child a blood test to rule out celiac disease. In preparation to this appointment, it is useful to keep a food diary and write down what your child eats before they have symptoms. If your child has a negative result blood test result, an elimination diet will determine whether they have gluten sensitivity.