Does Celiac Disease Require a Medical Bracelet?

This question has popped up a few times on forums and groups that I belong to - is it necessary to have a medical bracelet indicating that a one is following a gluten-free diet for Celiac Disease?

In my personal (not professional) opinion:

No, I don't think it is necessary for most people with Celiac Disease to have a medical bracelet.

Let me explain my reasoning...

1. I am old enough to speak up for myself in social situations. 
Self explanatory.  I can see where a bracelet may be necessary for younger children who are put in others' care, such as daycare, school, camp and other situations.  It is a constant reminder to those looking after the child that there is a serious need for gluten-free food and hopefully measures will be taken to ensure safe food.

2. Listing gluten as an allergy may impede administration of life saving drugs in an emergency.
The last thing I would want is doctors and nurses wasting precious seconds/minutes trying to figure out what gluten is and better yet, whether it is contained in a drug.
(How much gluten would be in that tiny pill anyway...? Definitely not saying I recommend taking pills that have gluten as a filler... just pointing out that in an emergency situation, if I had a choice between taking a pill that may or may not have small traces of gluten and turning down the medication that may save my life... I'm taking that pill.  One dose of trace amounts is unlikely to do permanent damage and I think I am better off having tried something than nothing at all.  Having said that... see #3)

3. Emergency medication is usually given intravenously, so they would bypass the digestive system anyway.
Yup... if I'm unconscious, doctors would be unlikely to try shoving a pill down my throat or having me chew something.  Medications taken orally take time to be broken down and absorbed.  Therefore, injecting directly into the bloodstream is a much more effective and likely scenario if anything were to land me in the hospital.

4. I figure by the time the hospital is ready to feed me after an emergency stay in the hospital, I will have friends and family there to notify hospital staff that I need gluten-free food.
In fact, I've heard that most hospitals can't really accommodate gluten-free diets anyway. So it's best you make sure you have friends and family who will be there to feed you after, if need be ;)


I think medical bracelets are fantastic for those with serious allergies, where if the person experienced an allergic reaction in a public area, it would alert those around to what may have happened.  Also, drug allergies are important to note on the bracelets so that the offending drugs are not given to the patient in a hospital.  Medical conditions that require medication (diabetes - insulin, heart conditions - nitroglycerin, etc) would definitely benefit from having a medical bracelet to indicate medication may be required.

What are your thoughts?  
Do you have a medical bracelet for Celiac Disease?


  1. I've got a medicalert watch.I wouldn't want to have diarrhea and pain on top of everything else if being administered an oral med that had gluten in it, or being given a tiny snack. Also it might cause my immune system to dive- and in a hospital tere are lots of bugs to catch.

  2. I agree that a medical alert bracelet for an adult is not required. I'm gluten-intolerant and was in the hospital overnight to have two stents put in my heart. This was in Mexico where I live. After the procedure they asked me what I wanted to eat, knowing I am GI. Had a plate of fruit and yogurt and all other meals were gluten-free!! How's that for a so-called third world country. I was in a top-notch heart institute in Guadalajara. Being GF in Mexico is not as easy as in Canada.

    1. i thought most yogurt had gluten (hidden)

  3. I was wondering about this as my daughter has Celiac and is starting JK this fall. I know that her teacher will know and all parents of birthday parties etc she attends, but what about the ones that aren't aware (maybe guests at the party harmlessly sharing food with the kids). Would having the bracelet on the hand she reaches for the food for maybe cause the person to stop and check?? She just seems to be having more "tummy issues" lately so I am a little more hyper sensitive to it at present...

    1. Sherri,
      As your daughter is so young this is a great idea for her. I am celiac and understand how painful it can be, I'd hate for someone to give my daughter (3.5) something that could make her feel like that. I think with kids you can never be too safe.
      Just my 2 cents! :)

  4. I have a medic alert bracelet indicating migraines, celiac disease and thyroid disease. I feel safer having all my major medical problems listed.

  5. Have decided to wear one in case i lose my memory! Imagine people feeding me with bread and butter trying to help me...rrr

  6. I have CD and vomit violently (I mean for one to two hours!) whenever I accidentally ingest gluten. I rarely eat out anymore because it's just not worth the risk. I think an ID pendant would be worthwhile should I find myself in hospital.

  7. I have just been diagnosed with CD and was researching the med alert bracelet. I have had issues for many years and it all came to a head a few months ago. Finally I have been diagnosed. In the past I have had three trips to the ER via ambulance due to an alergic reaction that no one could figure out. The only common denominator was that all three times I had taken a prescription medication prior to the reaction. The third time was not the same prescription as the first two times. They said I may have an issue with the fillers in the prescriptions. Now that I have CD I wonder if there was gluten or wheat in the fillers. So I am thinking the med alert bracelet might be a good idea.