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Can I Determine Gluten Allergy By Changing Diet?
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I am in the process of researching possibilities for my 12 year old daughters digestive issues (she's had since she was a baby). Several people have suggested having her tested for gluten allergy but I thought if I just altered her diet for a specified time and her symptoms improved, I could determine she has an allergy (and then of course follow this up with a doctor's visit/testing). Is this the case? She has digestive issues (stomach aches, nausea, etc..) on a daily basis and has since she was very young. She's also had problems with achiness in her joints, mood problems/depression, etc.. I thought of putting her on a strict gluten free diet for about a week to see if her digestive issues would go away. Any thoughts on if this could help in determining a gluten allergy? Is a week long enough to try this?

Thanks for any suggestions provided.

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Hi and welcome. Your daughter needs to be evaluated by a doctor for celiac disease because she has a lot of the symptoms. Celiac disease is not an allergy. It is an autoimmune condition that requires a strict lifelong gluten-free diet. It is very important get testing for celiac BEFORE you take her gluten-free because the tests do not work once someone is on the diet. If gluten turns out to be the issue you would have to make her sick all over again to get the tests done.

The testing is important because if she is celiac, she will need the documentation of celiac for school and college. This is a diet that has a lot of repercussions for teenagers and kids in college who can't always control what they are given to eat.

There is also non-celiac gluten intolerance (which still isn't allergy) where a person gets sick from gluten but doesn't have celiac disease. This diagnosis is reserved for people with negative celiac tests who feel better off gluten. Gluten is not as dangerous for people with gluten intolerance but eating it can still cause a lot of unpleasant symptoms and problems with inflammation.

Once the testing is done (including biopsy if necessary) you would want to try the diet a couple months to pick up a gluten intolerance. Some people feel better within a week but that's unusual. A few weeks is more typical. People with celiac rather than gluten intolerance can take months to years to really recover from the autoimmune damage.

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Hi,

I am in the process of being tested myself.

If you were to put her on a gluten free diet and she improved, it may well indicate that gluten is a problem. However, if you wanted to pursue medical testing (blood tests etc) you would then need to reintroduce gluten and put her on a 'Gluten challenge' of quite high levels of gluten for some time before testing, and there are many conflicting views on how much gluten and for how long is required to ensure accurate test results. Not only that reintroducing gluten after being gluten free can be unpleasant in terms of symptoms.

Personally, I decided to try going gluten free to 'test the theory' and after only one week, yes I started to feel better in as much of some of the immediate symptoms subsided (gurgling stomach, gas etc were less after a couple of days). I stopped after a week when I read that it was necessary to be eating gluten to get tested. I still had to do a 6 week gluten challenge, which was not nice to do and held up the diagnosis process.

In general, it seems prudent to continue to eat gluten until all medical tests you wish to pursue have been completed, and you are satisfied with either a diagnosis, or that you are sure going gluten free is the solution and you do not want to go back to gluten at all.

I am sure there are people here with much more experience who will have more to add, this is just my view as someone going through being tested.

Good luck, and I hope your daughter feels better soon.

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Thanks you for your responses. This is all new to me as I have been doing more and more research pertaining to her symptoms, etc.. Her pediatrician is very "old school" and has never mentioned celiac or any intolerance to anything. She is going for a physical shortly and I will def. bring all of this up. Thank you again.

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