What is the difference between Celiac Disease, Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity or Wheat Allergy?

There is a lot of confusion about gluten-caused diseases vs. gluten-caused allergies. Today, many grocery stores and restaurants provide many gluten-free choices for people who suffer from gluten-induced health issues. Gluten is a protein naturally found in wheat, barley, rye, and other hybrids and products made from these grains. In recent years, people have identified several common issues for specific individuals that may be linked to gluten, and they have taken steps to remove it from their diet. Some common issues include:

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease (CD) is a genetic, autoimmune disorder that is a reaction to taking in gluten. To develop the disease, a person must inherit the genetic predisposition. The gastrointestinal symptoms include cramping, diarrhea, and constipation. Other parts of the body can suffer, too. Patients have documented a list of over 200 symptoms that include bone and joint pain, headaches, fatigue, rashes, behavioral changes, and anemia, to the even more severe and extreme reactions that include stunted growth and infertility.

Since there is a genetic component to CD, family members and relatives often have it. It is estimated that about 1% of the population are prone to having it, but only 17% of that population have even been diagnosed with it. The only true treatment is to maintain a gluten-free diet. Research is being conducted to find other possible treatments or medications, but currently, nothing is better than just refraining from any and all gluten.

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS), also known as gluten sensitivity (GS) or non-celiac wheat sensitivity (NCWS) is not well defined, but it is not an autoimmune reaction nor is it immunoglobulin-based. There currently is no tests or biomarkers to identify NCGS, and it is not well understood. It isn’t even clear if the gluten parts of the grain are actually causing any symptoms. Figuring out if you have this is by elimination, ruling out that you have CD or wheat allergies or anything else. Then, if improvement is seen by stopping all gluten, and only then, can gluten sensitivity be diagnosed. Staying away from gluten is the only treatment.

Wheat Allergy

Wheat allergy is an immune reaction to any form of the hundreds of forms of proteins contained in wheat. Just like being allergic to seafood, for example. When you eat wheat, your white blood cells attack the wheat, and the body is alerted that it is under attack. Symptoms can happen within minutes or hours and range from tingling/itching of the face, feet, or hands; swelling of the eyes, lips, or tongue; difficulty in breathing; nausea; abdominal pain; and more. It is possible to have a combination of CD and NCGS, plus a wheat allergy. In the United States, wheat is one of the eight most common allergies. Children sometimes outgrow the allergy, but if it kicks in during adulthood, it is usually a lifelong allergy. The only real treatment is to stay wheat-free.

Contact the GastroCare LI Professionals Today

Working closely with your doctor and a registered dietitian will help you get a diagnosis and design a lifestyle and diet that helps support your health and wellness. If you are suffering from symptoms of celiac disease or have other pain or discomfort, contact us today. Dr. Bradley Rieders and Dr. Gautam Reddy of GastroCare LI have made their life’s work in helping those suffering from issues just like these and we are ready to help you. Call us today so you can start feeling better. Call us at (516) 265-7049 or schedule a confidential appointment with us online.