It’s time to trust your gut again
By Sarah Oliha, Public Relations Intern, Hennepin Healthcare
We have all experienced a bad stomach ache. The sensation may have been dull, sharp, or a mixture of both. No matter what the cause, we can agree that it was unpleasant, and the moment it passed we welcomed relief.
Thankfully there are common and simple treatments for stomach aches that are usually effective. Dr. Robert Matlock, Division Chief for Gastroenterology at Hennepin Healthcare, says “Often, stomach aches are temporary and can be treated with a bland diet, rest, and over-the-counter medications for control of specific symptoms, such as antacid for upper abdominal pains, antidiarrheal agents for cramping pain with diarrhea, or bismuth (Pepto Bismol) for upper abdominal discomfort and nausea. Many home remedies exist for short-term stomach aches.”
It’s no surprise that there are many causes of stomach discomfort, some of them rare. Dr. Matlock explained that they usually occur for short periods of time and are commonly caused by something we have eaten or an intestinal virus. Unfortunately, it is estimated that for a rare 1% [1 in 100] of the population of the United States, common treatments aren’t as effective for discomfort if they are found to be symptomatic of celiac disease– an immune system reaction to the gluten protein, found in wheat, barley, rye, and some other grains. While celiac disease usually shows no symptoms outside of iron deficiency, ingesting gluten while having the disease still causes damage to the intestinal lining.
Celiac disease causes changes to the lining of the small intestine and interferes with nutrient absorption. Absorption problems can lead to abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, anemia, and nutrient deficiencies. People who have celiac disease should avoid gluten intake to prevent this from happening. The elimination of gluten can be a personal choice, but for those who have Celiac disease, maintaining a gluten-free diet is essential to overall health and gut happiness.
As a person who recently was diagnosed with Celiac disease and symptomatic of several rare but possible symptoms – I strongly encourage you to listen to your body. Although feeling worse after a meal, having extensive and daily bloating, weeks of constipation, vomiting and daily nausea are rare signs of celiac disease, they are not normal for a healthy gut.
If you’ve scanned over a menu or looked through the aisles at the grocery store, chances are you have seen something listed as “gluten-free.” Being on a gluten-free diet is very trendy these days, and there are benefits to limiting or removing gluten from your diet if you have celiac disease. It’s true that some of the most delicious foods contain gluten – but luckily there are several delicious alternatives that are gluten-free!
“Gluten-free food is getting so much better and pretty easy to find,” says Bonnie Anderson, who has been living with celiac disease for more than 10 years. “Many mainstream grocery stores carry gluten-free foods, such as Cub, Target, HyVee, Trader Joes and Whole Foods. Surprisingly enough, even Costco carries a lot of gluten-free foods. They sell a fabulous gluten-free cauliflower crust pizza. I had to check the box one more time after eating a piece of pizza to make sure I had the right one because it was so yummy!”
If you’ve been questioning your gut, it may be time to go in and talk to your doctor. Gastrointestinal problems are common and seeking professional help may be beneficial. For those with common stomach discomfort or with uncommon immune reactions, it may seem like a poor hand to be dealt, but thanks to providers at Hennepin Healthcare and self-care alternatives available, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Trust what your gut is telling you and get to the bottom of your stomach pain.