You may be asking yourself why gluten free options have recently become more and more available on store shelves across the country, for everything from food to drinks to medicine. As it turns out, the gluten-free lifestyle is not just hype. Many people across the globe suffer from gluten sensitivity, with problems ranging from mild to extremely severe. These problems stem from a number of different sources, the most common of which are listed below.

1. Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is one of the most common gluten related disorders. It is an immune disorder that is triggered by the consumption of gluten, but has far more wide ranging effects if it is left unrecognized or untreated for significant amounts of time, including prolonged inflammation and difficulty absorbing vitamins and nutrients. The only way to treat this disease is to avoid contact with any substance containing gluten, as even small amounts of gluten can trigger symptoms.

2. Dermatitis Herpetiformis

This type of gluten sensitivity manifests itself in extensive, blistering skin lesions that present themselves across the body, particularly on the elbows, knees, and ankles, and generally in a rather symmetrical pattern. These skin lesions typically become extremely dry and begin to flake off, exposing itchy, burning patches of raw skin. People with dermatitis herpetiformis typically also have some degree of intestinal problem as well. As with celiac disease, the only way to avoid outbreaks is to avoid consumption of gluten.

3. Wheat Allergy

Some people experience celiac-like symptoms from consuming wheat products, but as a result, instead, of a mild to severe wheat allergies. Unlike with celiac disease, however, whose symptoms manifest themselves over a drawn out period long after consumption of wheat products, wheat allergies generally present themselves in a strong reaction quickly after consuming wheat. In addition, those with wheat allergies may still be able to tolerate other starchy grains like barley and rye.

4. Other Gluten Sensitivity

This category includes all gluten sensitivity that does not fall into the category of celiac disease or allergies. The source of this type of gluten sensitivity is often more difficult to locate, but the problems are of a similar nature, including inflammation and abdominal pain, as well as other gastrointestinal ailments that only subside when gluten-containing products are removed from the diet. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity has also been shown to cause numerous problems outside of the digestive tract including numbness of the limbs, long lasting fatigue, and even mental disorders. People with this disorder often also present symptoms of other food allergies. The results of this type of disease can be more drawn out and complex than allergies or even celiac disease. While withdrawal of gluten from the diet is highly recommended for this type of disorder, even tiny amounts as the result of cross contamination can continue to aggravate the condition for a long time after direct consumption of gluten stops.

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