What is Gastric Distress?
Gastric distress is a group of digestive disorders that are associated with lingering symptoms of constipation, bloating, reflux, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping. These gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms can be caused by infections, food intolerances, food allergies or autoimmune diseases.
How Common are GI Conditions?
More than 3.6 million Americans see a primary care physician for symptoms related to their digestive system each year. However, many people who suffer from symptoms related to digestive disorders, including celiac disease, are not properly diagnosed for a long period of time. As a result, many people incorrectly modify diets, leading to unnecessary nutritional deficits and lower quality of life. Additionally, GI disorders that are not properly treated can lead to long-term complications, such as osteoporosis or malnutrition, making proper treatment essential.
What are Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that occurs in children and adults. It is triggered by consumption of gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, the small intestine does not absorb nutrients efficiently, which can lead to bloating, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms. People with celiac disease are at risk for other autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, thyroid disease, as well as malnourishment. Those with celiac disease are put on a gluten-free diet to limit these risks.
What is Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity?
Gluten sensitivity is when individuals cannot tolerate gluten and experience symptoms similar to those with celiac disease yet lack the same antibodies and intestinal damage as seen in celiac sufferers. Research estimates that 18 million Americans have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
What is Gastritis?
Gastritis is a condition involving abdominal and or epigastric pain and discomfort. It can be caused by excessive use of alcohol, certain medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) or infection. If left untreated, gastritis can lead to an ulcer. One of the main causes of gastritis is infection with Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria. Infection with H. pylori has been associated with development of ulcers, stomach cancer and other diseases, so it is important to find out if it is causing gastric distress. If so, it can be easily cured with a course of antibiotics.
The Gastric Distress Profile from BioReference
There are no specific tests for diagnosing gastric distress and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. The path to diagnosing these conditions consists of a comprehensive test that identifies key allergic and autoimmune conditions that may be the cause of unexplained symptoms. The test can confirm the presence of antibodies in commonly associated conditions that could be the cause of gastric distress or gluten sensitivity, including the common markers of celiac disease, gastritis and food allergies.
When to get Tested
Patients with gastric distress commonly turn to over-the-counter medications, such as antacids and heartburn medications. If use of these medications does not solve your problem, or your symptoms persist for more than a few weeks, then you should visit your primary care doctor. He or she may suggest dietary changes or use of different medications to treat your condition. If symptoms persist and a diagnosis cannot be made, you may wish to discuss diagnostic testing using the BioReference Gastric Distress Profile with your doctor.
Identifying the symptoms behind your gastric distress or gluten sensitivity is the first step to treatment. Speak with your physician to confirm if testing is right for you.