Differences Between a Gluten Allergy and Nasal Polyps

November 12, 2012

Differences Between a Gluten Allergy and Nasal Polyps

Have you been experiencing chronic congestion of your sinuses? Do you have breathing difficulties but do not know why? There are many causes for these symptoms, including suffering from a gluten allergy or having undiagnosed nasal polyps. You need to go to a doctor in order to get a definite diagnosis and a course of treatment. As you wait for your doctor’s appointment, learn the main differences between the symptoms of gluten allergies and nasal polyps.

Before we press on, you will need to learn more about gluten and nasal polyps. Gluten is a normal food product made from barley, wheat and rye flour. It is found in baked goods, many condiments, salad dressings and many kinds of ice cream. A polyp is a small growth like a tiny tumor that is usually non-cancerous. Having growths in the nose may seem hard to miss, but nasal polyps can be so small that you can have them for years without feeling them.

Age of Patient

Symptoms of a gluten allergy can appear at any time in a person’s life, but often appears in childhood or young adulthood. There are many different symptoms of gluten sensitivity, including migraines, bloating, problems breathing, chronic sinus congestion and diarrhea, but you do not have to have all of these symptoms to have an allergy. Younger patients tend to have more intense symptoms.

In contrast, people with nasal polyps tend to be mature adults or senior citizens. Symptoms may be ignored or self-medicated with over the counter medications, steam heat or aromatherapy until the symptoms become so bad that the patient finally goes to see a doctor. They can be very surprised to discover that they have growths inside of their nose that need to be removed. People with asthma or cystic fibrosis are prone to developing nasal polyps.

Runny Nose

People with a gluten allergy tend to have a runny nose or post-nasal drip, where they can feel mucus dripping down the back of their throat. It’s often less painful for the patient to swallow the mucus rather than try to cough it up. The runny nose is caused by the patient’s sinus tissues increasing histamine in an attempt to flush out the allergen.

The Mayo Clinic notes that post nasal drip and a runny nose are common symptoms of nasal polyps, but they can last for more than 12 weeks while people suffering from a gluten allergy can have their runny nose come and go, depending on how frequently they eat foods containing gluten.

Vision Problems

People with a gluten allergy can suffer from migraines, which can cause vision problems. These can be migraine auras, which can appear like flashing lights, strange blotches of color or sudden blurred vision in half of one eye. The vision problems happen just before and during the migraine.

People with nasal polyps can also suffer from migraines, but they can suffer from vision problems without a migraine ever occurring. They should see a doctor right away if they get a fever, have swelling around the eyes, lose part of their vision or cannot move their eyeballs inside of their sockets.

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