Gluten Allergy and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
It’s on the rise. Or perhaps, it is hard not to ignore due to the number of end-cap displays in grocery stores. Gluten-free food items and options. Why are people avoiding gluten? What exactly does it mean to have a gluten allergy?
Gluten Allergy Explained
Gluten is a protein primarily found in wheat, but also barley and rye. People can develop a gluten allergy or intolerance. When they consume a gluten-containing food item, their body is unable to digest this substance. An intolerance to gluten can escalate into celiac disease, when the sufferer’s immune system attacks the digestive tract organs, especially the small intestine lining. Whether you have a gluten allergy, intolerance or true celiac disease, you can experience a wide array of symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, intestinal pain and nausea.
It is important to realize that gluten can also be found in less obvious places than bread and pasta. Gluten can be found in many processed food items like soy sauce, candy, salad dressing, ready-made soup and cold cuts. In many recipes, gluten can be substituted with rice, quinoa and flax.
A gluten allergy is verified when a person follows a gluten-free diet and symptoms decrease or even disappear. However, a diagnosis of celiac disease is confirmed with an intestinal biopsy. This test will also be able to give a picture as to the intestinal damage caused by the disease.
Connection with Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is defined as a stoppage of breathing throughout the course of a night’s sleep due to an obstruction. The pauses in breath can be a short as a few seconds to as long as minutes, and occur from 5 to over 30 times within any given hour during a night of sleep. With that being said, is there a possible connection between a gluten allergy and OSA?
When a person with OSA is not diagnosed or treated, this individual is at a higher risk for life-threatening illnesses such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. With the low levels of oxygen in the blood stream, inflammation increases. And thus it is theorized that a person is more susceptible to a heightened and negative response to gluten.
While removing gluten from your diet can seem like a monumental and not easily attainable task (especially if you have a hard time passing up a morning bagel with cream cheese, pizza with all the toppings or simply a dinner roll), once people at least try for a test period of 2 to 3 weeks the benefits often outweigh the hardship. The symptoms due to a gluten allergy lessen and people also find their associated OSA issues like daytime sleepiness, poor concentration, headaches, memory loss and snoring also decrease in frequency and severity.
If you have been wondering whether or not your gluten allergy might be affecting or an indication of sleep apnea, contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 or schedule a free consultation when it’s convenient for you.