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Have you struggled to lose weight for as long as you can remember? Perhaps, you’re about ready to give up. If you can relate to this frustrating situation, consider speaking with your trusted physician about your concerns. Your doctor might be able to determine why you’re encountering difficultly losing weight. For instance, you might have an undiagnosed thyroid problem. Or, you may be retaining water. If you’re suffering from hypothyroidism, taking a prescription medication every morning might help you shed a few pounds. On this blog, I hope you will discover how a doctor can help you achieve lasting weight loss success. Enjoy!

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Gluten Digestion: What Goes Wrong And What To Do

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When you live alone, you rely heavily on your home care aide to keep tabs on your overall health. It's important to let him or her know when you don't feel well. Getting stomach cramps, feeling nauseated or having diarrhea after eating aren't typical. Something in your system is off. It's possible that your body just cannot digest the gluten -- a grain protein -- in your grain diet. This can happen at any point in life, even if you had no issues when you were younger.

If stomach and bowel issues seem to be your norm lately after meals, it might be time to talk with your home care aide and get evaluated for gluten intolerance. He or she can help you get an appointment with your primary care physician -- the initial test is just a quick blood draw.

Celiac Disease vs. Gluten Intolerance

Being gluten intolerant doesn't necessarily mean you have celiac disease. Celiac is an autoimmune disorder that sends your immune system into a frenzy when you have wheat, rye, barley or food made with these gluten-rich grains. Your immune system winds up attacking the nutrient-absorbing villi that line your intestinal tract. Over an extended period of time, the villi become permanently damaged and you can become malnourished. A gluten intolerance has similar symptoms, causing stomach aches and loose stools, but it doesn't have the same negative effects on your immune system or in your gut. Your body just has a hard time digesting gluten for some unknown reason.

What to Expect at the Doctor's

Testing for celiac disease often starts with a few blood draws ordered by your doctor. These tests evaluate your blood for certain antibodies that are known to be off if you have celiac disease. You can also have genetic blood testing done if you have a close relative with celiac disease. Blood tests are sometimes followed up with a small bowel biopsy to determine the level of damage to your gut. But if these tests show that you do not have celiac, you can still be gluten intolerant. You can't be tested for gluten intolerance though. The only thing you can do is eliminate all gluten foods from your diet to see if symptoms improve.

Dietary Changes

Eliminating gluten from your diet entirely is the only way to treat gluten intolerance or celiac. You can go on a gluten-free diet on your own for a few days before heading to your doctor, with the help of your home care aide, of course. Read nutrition facts labels on all of the foods you eat and avoid anything with wheat, spelt, wheat bran, wheat germ, wheat starch, barley, rye or triticale.

You'll also have to skip anything made with durum flour, enriched flour, white flour, semolina, graham flour or other wheat-based flour. Sometimes gluten is hidden in soups, sauces, dressings and chips too, thus watch for terms like "gluten-free" or "free of gluten" on the label. If your belly issues resolve after just a few days of going gluten-free, you'll want to let your doctor know so he or she can diagnose you properly.

When It's an Allergy

Aside from tummy troubles, if you start getting itchy, have hives or find it difficult to breath after eating a grain-based food, you could have an allergy. Your physician can order a blood test for a wheat allergy, which is not celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. Having a wheat allergy causes your immune system to severely overreact, which can put you straight into the emergency room.

You may find it harder and harder to breathe and pass out if you come into contact with the allergen. It can even be fatal in severe cases. Just like with celiac and a gluten intolerance, you'll have to avoid all wheat foods and many grain-based foods if you have a wheat allergy. Plus your doctor will probably also give you a prescription for epinephrine, an injection you can give yourself if an allergic reaction does occur.

Your home care aide -- such as those from Devoted Guardians -- is there to help you. Talk with him or her about your concerns. Problems with gluten -- or your diet in general -- can be very serious. If left untreated, you can become malnourished and very sick over time. 

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