April 20, 2011

Does Gluten Intolerance Cause Asthma?

 

According to a new study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, there is a strong correlation.

Source:

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 127, Issue 4, April 2011, Pages 1071-1073.

Baker’s Asthma dates back to an observation from 1700.  Bakers exposed to large amounts of flour dust suffered respiratory symptoms that mimicked asthma.  This was the first known historical connection between grain inducing asthma.

According to EPA statistics, approximately 8% of the U.S. population have asthma.  The common thought is that asthma is caused by genetics, airborne allergies, and the over emphasis of hygiene (hygiene hypothesis).

The common medical solution is the use of steroid inhalers, and immune suppressing allergy medications.  Many patients are told that the asthma is something they will have to medicate for the rest of their lives.  The downside to this – chronic steroid use causes vitamin and mineral deficiency, bone loss, and contributes to diabetes.  Allergy medications increase the risk for infection and reduce the immune systems ability to fight pathogenic invaders.

Many of these individuals are skin tested for environmental allergies, unfortunately, food allergies are rarely looked at as a cause for asthma.  In my practice, I commonly see patients who have been previously diagnosed with asthma.  After identifying gluten sensitivity and/or other food allergies with advanced lab testing, these patients always show dramatic improvement.  As a matter of fact, for most of them, medication becomes unnecessary.

These patients’ immune systems are so busy fighting their food, that they don’t have left over immune resources to fight the environment.  Add to that the fact that gluten can induce inflammation in the lung tissue.

With more than 20 million cases of asthma, an estimated 30 million people with gluten sensitivity, and an estimated 1 million with people with celiac disease, wouldn’t it be prudent to investigate the possibility of an overlap?  Shouldn’t doctors test for gluten sensitivity as a standard part of practice for every patient with asthma?

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4 Responses to “Does Gluten Intolerance Cause Asthma?”

  • deanna says:

    I suffered from year around environmental allergies since age 18. By the age of 25 I was put on two nose sprays and benedryl to be taken twice a day. I went off the medication during two pregnancies and suffered terribly. At age 40 I was diagnosed with Graves Disease (hyperthyroidism, an autoimmune disorder). Four years later I was tested positive for gluten, dairy and egg allergies and intolerances. I eliminated these foods and within months felt relief from environmental allergies. Within two years my Graves Disease went into remission. I no long take medications of any kind and only sneeze occasionally.

  • Jamie says:

    I’m 25 and have had asthma since a baby. I had a nebuliser at home that I took twice daily until around 10 years old and have been into hospital a few times. Things got better as I got older but have still been on blue and brown inhalers daily since. I decided to try alter my diet, I was a milk guzzling, carb on carb eater (favourite being spaghetti bolognese with garlic bread)
    Since significantly reducing my gluten intake (now only limited wholegrain bread, no pasta, gluten free beer) I have been over 8 weeks without using an inhaler for the first time in my life. Long may it continue

  • Johnny says:

    I have had “asthma” since I was in the third grade. Have taken every allergy pill and inhaler known to humans. Recently I decided to make a lifestyle change and began the Paleo Diet and went gluten free. I originally did not do this for my asthma but for the other health benefits. After only two days I could notice a difference in my breathing. I am now two weeks into this diet and have not used any inhaler at all. This coming from someone using Advair and ProAir daily. Advair for the last five years twice daily, and ProAir/Albuterol daily upto six times for the last 25 years! I only wish my health care professional would have recommended this years earlier?? If they did this they would be going against the Standard American Diet that recommends multiple servings of grains per day? Your body is not made to digest grains and it took me this long to figure it out. Is the government keeping the people sick to fund the multi-billion dollar medical industry??? Sorry for going off on a tangent, but it’s sad that a doctor would rather just write you prescriptions for 25 years, rather than give you advice that could possibly change your life.

  • Brian says:

    This past fall I developed what my doctor told me was a typical case of bronchitis. It lasted for almost 2 months and I followed his instructions to the letter. At the same time, my asthma, which I have had since I was a kid, also acted up. Up until then, I would use my inhaler only once in a while. During the bronchitis I was using it 3-4 times a day at least. Even after the bronchitis seemed to go away, I was left with constant asthma. I noticed that I would get an attack after I ate – breathing problems, feeling bloated, sometimes a bit of a headache. I started to look at what I was eating and based on the patterns, it appeared to be wheat products which were triggering the attacks. I looked online for information about this since I had never heard of a correlation between asthma and wheat before and there is not a lot – but I’m now finding that others have experienced the same thing. I cut out wheat for a few days and I virtually have no problem. I consume something with wheat and inevitably it triggers an attack. It seems that a wheat-free diet is in my future. Very strange that it seems to have been triggered only this past fall (I’m almost 50 yrs old and never experienced this before).

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