published Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Ask a doctor: I think I have gluten sensitivity. What should I do?

Dr. Richard Krause

Q: I think I have gluten sensitivity. What should I do?

A: A gluten-free diet has been suggested by Oprah Winfrey as a way to boost health and lose weight. However, most people do not need a gluten-free diet unless they have celiac disease. Gluten is a protein in wheat, barley and rye. Celiac disease patients cannot eat any gluten. They have an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks itself. It is a genetic disorder, but it can develop anytime during your life. There is damage to the small bowel, resulting in poor absorption of food. The symptoms are variable but include gas, bloating, diarrhea, irritability, depression, weight loss, fatigue and vitamin deficiencies. Until recently, the only treatment would be a strict gluten-free diet. It is a very difficult diet, so no one should start it unless he or she is diagnosed with celiac disease. A simple blood test is required to make the diagnosis. If someone goes on a gluten-free diet and loses weight, then they probably don't have celiac disease. Celiac patients actually gain weight on the diet. ClinSearch is conducting a research study to help celiac patients. If you are interested, call 698-4584.

— Dr. Richard Krause, ClinSearch; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: To submit a question for medical doctors, email it to Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com. See this space each week for answers.

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