THE BLOG

Gluten-Free Medication Guidelines

06/01/2015 06:32 pm ET | Updated Jun 01, 2016

For those of us who suffer from seasonal allergies, springtime is synonymous with sinus troubles. As much as 30 percent of the world's population is estimated to suffer from seasonal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis, and it can often lead to sinus infections. For many, these are easily remedied by antibiotics and a few days of rest. However, as I learned recently, the story doesn't end there for those who suffer from celiac disease.

An autoimmune disease affecting approximately 1 in 133 Americans, celiac can be characterized by gastrointestinal issues along with depression, skin problems, and anemia. The only known cure for this disease is a 100 percent gluten-free diet. This means that for those of us living with the disease, our only option for treatment is to consume absolutely no gluten. Any ounce of gluten can wreak havoc on our bodies, set us back in our road to recovery, and even cause future health complications down the road.

Given the severity of this common disease, one would assume, as I did, that our health care professionals are well versed in what medications contain gluten and which don't. Well, when I was prescribed a round of antibiotics to treat my seasonal allergy-induced sinus infection last week, my doctors and pharmacists hadn't the slightest clue which medications were gluten-free or not. Not only did they have no clue, but there was no guidance or support offered. In fact, I was completely left to my own devices. And while this is not an unusual feeling for those with celiac disease, I was still shocked.

Thanks to the website http://glutenfreedrugs.com/ and the diligent research of a friend who also has celiac, I was able to find an antibiotic that helped cure my sinus infection. But I couldn't help but wonder, why don't my health care providers know what is safe for me? I'm their patient after all! And with the growing number of celiac diagnoses over the past few years, why hasn't more education taken place?

Perhaps most perplexing to me is the fact that there are no current regulations for gluten in medicine. Why is it that our government has not yet taken action on this?

In 2013, The Gluten in Medicine Disclosure Act of 2013 was introduced to Congress, but it has had no additional actions since it was introduced to the Congressional Subcommittee on Health in May 2013. My hope is that this changes soon and until then, individuals with celiac disease should continue to reference http://glutenfreedrugs.com/ for the most up to date information available.