The Celiac Medical Alert Bracelet Debate
There is a minor debate among those of us with celiac disease of the necessity of wearing a medical alert ID bracelet. Some consider it a non-life threatening condition and therefore dismiss the notion of wearing a medical alert tag, while others would never be without it. For many people, the decision depends upon the degree of their gluten intolerance. And the majority of celiacs have probably never even thought about wearing one or the consequences of being without one.
Most people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance prefer to think of it as little more than a food allergy. But a bout with gluten can result in more than a few hours or days of gastric distress. Each episode pushes one a step closer to major problems, such as osteoporosis, malabsorption, or colon cancer.
Currently, there are no government requirements regarding the labeling of drugs for gluten. Considering the vast number of drugs and pharmaceutical ingredients that contain gluten, including several brands of penicillin and aspirin, and especially those with inactive ingredients such as dextrate and starch, it would appear prudent, if not imperative, for any celiac to wear a medical alert ID bracelet. Pills (like many candies), are often dusted with gluten-containing flour to prevent sticking. Oil-filled capsules can contain gluten. And, of course, rubber and latex gloves are often dusted with flour.
If a celiac is in an accident or otherwise unable to speak for themselves, a medical alert ID bracelet can ensure a medical emergency is not further compounded by being exposed to, ingesting, or being injected intravenously with unnecessary gluten. It is especially important for young children, who may not be able to clearly explain their gluten intolerance condition.
I believe the real reason so many celiacs do not wear a medical alert ID is that the bracelets available at drugstores are, quite frankly, unattractive. But that is no longer an issue with so many interchangeable medical alert bracelets available on the Internet today. One ID plate can now be switched among an array of stylish and contemporary bracelets, from Swarovski crystals to turquoise gemstones.
One way to definitively convince a celiac that they should wear a medical ID tag is for them to imagine what would happen if they suffered from amnesia. It usually takes months, or years, of painful suffering before being diagnosed as a celiac. No one wants to chance having to go through that again!