Gluten-Free Medicine

 

Some people have been told they have an "allergy" to gluten. What this actually means is that their body can't tolerate foods with gluten. This intolerance, called Celiac disease, has been on the rise in recent years.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Various foods, diet supplements, and cosmetics and beauty products may contain gluten. Gluten is also used to thicken some medicines or add flavor. When people with Celiac disease eat gluten, the small intestines in their digestive tract do not work properly. They have severe abdominal pain and loose bowel movements. The only way to control the disease is to maintain a gluten-free diet. For details, visit: www.celiaccentral.org.

Reading food labels helps to avoid foods that contain gluten. However, companies that produce medicines and dietary supplements are not required to warn consumers if the product contains gluten, so they sometimes use more general names for gluten on the label.

Here's what you can do. When you look for gluten in the ingredients on a medicine label, also look for the words "starch" or "flavor." These may signal that the product contains gluten. If you are unsure, ask your pharmacist whether an over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medicine contains gluten. The pharmacist will check with the manufacturer if necessary. You can also access a website for a list of gluten-free medicines at: www.glutenfreedrugs.com.

Created on February 1, 2009

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