It is difficult to make changes to your eating habits especially when you have developed intolerance to gluten suddenly. A commonly asked question is can you become gluten intolerant later in life? The fact is that, gluten intolerance can happen any time. It is more difficult to deal with it if developed later in life as a major change is required in dietary habits. Let us understand about gluten intolerance, symptoms and diagnosis.
Can You Become Gluten Intolerant Later In Life?
While gluten intolerance is noted in many illnesses and is common since childhood, it is also possible that you can become gluten intolerant later in life. Once you have become gluten intolerant, it becomes vital to eliminate any food that has gluten content in it. A complete elimination is recommended in such a condition. Gluten is found in many of the daily food items consumed such as breads, pasta cereals, mayonnaise, ketchup, salad dressings and sauces and other items made of wheat, barley, rye, graham flour. While a sudden jump to eliminating all these food items may be easier said than done, a slow yet steady process needs to be followed for a better and healthier life. Gluten is a type of protein found in many food items consumed on a daily basis. When the body starts rejecting the absorption of this protein, the condition is known as gluten intolerance. In this condition the immune system of the body poses an abnormal response to break down the gluten consumed.
Gluten intolerance can develop at any point in life. A moment to trigger the condition is enough. Improper eating habits, illness, stress and tension can be some of the causes that trigger gluten intolerance. While some may suffer from gluten intolerance since birth, many develop the condition later in life. Many children who are gluten intolerant are known to overcome the allergies after the age of 12 years.
Causes of Gluten Intolerance
Some of the conditions may be the causes of gluten intolerance. In gluten intolerance, the person may suffer from any of the following three things:
- Celiac disease. An autoimmune disorder, celiac disease affects the capability of the immune system to respond normally to gluten. When suffering from celiac disease, the parts present in the small intestine which are responsible to absorb nutrients are destroyed when gluten rich food is consumed. Bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, stomach ache, joint ache, fatigue, anemia, depression, nausea and vomiting are some of the symptoms of celiac disease.
- Non-celiac allergy. Non-celiac allergy is a condition affecting people who are sensitive to gluten but do not have celiac disease or wheat allergies. The common symptoms are fatigue, bloating, gas and headache.
- Wheat allergy. Wheat allergy is caused by the protein found in wheat products such as bread and pasta. The symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, rashes, irritation in eyes, throat and mouth, diarrhea and difficulty in breathing.
Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
While some symptoms are common for all the three conditions, celiac disease, wheat allergy and non-gluten allergy; symptoms specific to these conditions can also occur.
Some of the commonest symptoms of gluten intolerance include
- Issues with digestion such as bloating, diarrhoea, constipation leading to nausea and vomiting can mean the person has developed gluten intolerance.
- A condition called Keratosis Pilaris developed due to deficiency of fatty acids and vitamin A in the body triggered due to improper absorption of gluten.
- Consistent fatigue and brain fog may also indicate gluten intolerance.
- Headache, dizziness or migraine may also mean the person has developed intolerance to gluten. These are the common symptoms of gluten intolerance and can occur at any time.
- Hormonal imbalance causing infertility, miscarriages and PCOS may also be symptoms of gluten intolerance. These, showing symptoms of gluten intolerance too are common.
- Rashes, inflammation, swelling and joint pains or issues like depression, anxiety and mood swings are also the symptoms of gluten intolerance. You can become gluten intolerant later in life too, with such symptoms.
Diagnosis of Gluten Intolerance
As there are three different medical conditions of gluten intolerance, the diagnosis depends on the symptoms seen. You may try to stop the intake of gluten rich food to check if you feel better, but if you feel you may have developed intolerance to gluten, the intervention of a doctor is must. The doctors will suggest a series of blood tests and skin tests based on the symptoms to determine whether you are suffering from celiac disease, wheat allergy or non gluten allergy. Detailed information of your medical history may also be collected for a thorough diagnosis.
Management of Gluten Intolerance
For people who are suffering from gluten intolerance, the best way to deal with the condition is to immediately stop the consumption of gluten rich food. Eliminating all food items that contain gluten can help immensely. There are many brands in the market that prepare breads, pastas, cereals or cake mixes with no gluten content.
Switching to these brands may also help to deal with gluten intolerance. Eating freshly prepared food will also help. When eating out, ask form gluten free food preparations to avoid triggering any symptom.
Know the symptoms of gluten intolerance and the way it affects you. Keep medicines handy and take them as prescribed by your physician, in case you happen to consume foods containing gluten.
Apart from consultation from a doctor or a nutritionist, a research done on personal level can also help to narrow down the food items that will be safe for you. As gluten intolerance can be triggered at any point in life, keeping a check on your diet is essential. If any symptom is seen, consult a doctor immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment of the condition. Gluten intolerance can be passed on genetically from parents to children. It is not necessary that both will develop the condition, but any trigger point such as illness, stress, tension of a prolonged consumption of unhealthy food may cause the condition to develop. And yes, you can become gluten intolerant later in life as well; so always keep a watch on your diet and changes in your health.