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Gluten: Here's the Scoop

Gluten: Here's the Scoop

Gluten is the name for proteins found in grains, such as wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Acting as a glue, it helps foods to maintain their shape, and is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. There are three types of sensitivities associated with eating gluten.

 Wheat allergy: An immune (allergic) reaction to proteins in wheat.

·         Wheat allergies, like hay fever and medication allergies, develop when the body’s immune system (the body’s defense against illness and infection) becomes sensitized and overreacts to something in the environment

·         When a person has a wheat allergy, white blood cells send out antibodies (the immune system's army) to attack the wheat

·         At the same time, the body sends out chemical messengers to alert the rest of the body that there is a problem. This reaction happens within minutes to a few hours, during which time symptoms may appear

·         By law, packaged food products containing wheat must be clearly labeled


·         Stuffy or runny nose

·         Hives or itchy skin rash

·         Nausea, stomach cramps, indigestion, vomiting, or diarrhea

·         Sneezing

·         Headaches

·         Asthma

·         Anaphylaxis: a potentially life-threatening reaction that can impair breathing and send the body into shock


·         Bread, pasta, or any other food containing wheat

·         Nonfood items with wheat-based ingredients, such as Play-Doh

Treatment: A person with a wheat allergy must avoid eating any form of wheat, but does not have trouble tolerating gluten from other non-wheat grains

Testing: Blood test or skin-prick testing

 Celiac disease (CD): A genetic, autoimmune disorder that occurs in reaction to the ingestion of gluten. Autoimmune diseases occur when your body’s immune system becomes overactive and attacks normal tissues in your body.

·         The reaction to gluten damages the lining of the small intestine, which can interfere with the absorption of nutrients and cause health problems

·         There are over 200 identified symptoms of CD

·         The only treatment for celiac disease is to maintain a gluten-free diet for life

·         Diagnosis for children and adults is made by a blood test and biopsy of the lining of the small intestine

 Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS); Gluten Sensitivity/Intolerance

·         Is poorly understood. It does not appear to be either an allergy response or autoimmune reaction

·         For diagnosis, wheat sensitivity and CD are first ruled out. If improvement is seen when following a gluten-free diet, gluten sensitivity may be diagnosed

·         Adherence to a gluten-free diet is the only treatment

·         People with gluten sensitivity have problems with gluten from any grain source

 Symptoms for CD and NCGS include:

·         Abdominal cramping, diarrhea and constipation

·         Bone or joint pain

·         Muscle cramps and leg numbness

·         Headaches

·         Fatigue

·         Anemia

·         Weight loss

·         Depression or anxiety

·         Itchy skin rash

·         Irregular periods and problems with pregnancy

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Electronic Health Records: For Your Information

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