Gluten allergy vs Celiac disease: what it really is ?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Normally this protein is easily digested by our body but for some people, this protein is a hell of a problem, that is gluten sensitivity. It is estimated that around 18 million americans are allergic to gluten.

If you have heard about celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which the person is sensitive to gluten and injestion of gluten in such persons can lead to a lot of symptoms.

But wait, gluten allergy isn’t all celiac disease. You may be gluten sensitive but you might not be suffering from celiac disease. Research has recently found that about 6 % Americans suffer from gluten allergy which is also called as non- celiac gluten sensitivity.

So, let’s find out what differs gluten allergy from celiac disease. Let me start with celiac disease first.

What is celiac disease?

  • Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the small intestine. It is genetic (means you got it form your parents and you cant do anything about it)
  • Whenever person with celiac disease eats gluten containing food, the gluten is does not get digested and leads to inflammation of the small intestine by activation immunological response. As a result of which we see various mal-absorption symptoms.
  • Celiac disease affects around 1% of the people. It can occur at any age. Most of the people remain undiagnosed.
  • When the disease remains undiagnosed, it can result in various symptoms like abdominal problems, fatigue, anemia, nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis while some people show no symptoms at all.
  • To diagnose celiac disease, a blood test is required in which they look for tissue transglutaminase. along with that a small biopsy of small intestine is required to prove the diagnosis.
  • If the disease is not diagnosed  for a long period of time, it can lead to various complications like osteoporosis, infertility, cancer, and many more.
  • And the only common thing between celiac and non-celiac glutten sensitivity is their treatment. There is only one treatment and that is lifelong gluten free diet (no gluten at all)

Now , what really is gluten allergy?

  • Well, the good part is this is not genetic, it  an allergic response of our body to gluten. Also termed as non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
  • It is a non-specific immune response that occurs when our intestine is exposed to gluten.
  • It is estimated that around 18 million American suffer from gluten allergy.
  • Though the symptoms looks similar to that of celiac disease but there is no elevation of tissue transglutaminase or enteropathy like in the case of celiac disease. In non-celiac gluten sensitivity there is minimum instestinal damage.
  • There’s no specific test or methods to diagnose non celiac gluten sensitivity, its just that we have to do blood test and intestinal biopsy to rule out celiac disease. So, if you have symptoms of gluten sensitivity but  your blood test comes negative for tissue transglutaminase, then you might be suffering from non celiac gluten sensitivity.
  • And as I mentioned earlier the only treatment is life long strict gluten free diet.

So I hope you all understood the difference between celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. If you think you are experiencing the symptoms of gluten sensitivity then my suggestion is that please consult your family doctor to prevent any further complications.If you are queries regarding this matter please feel free to comment, we will be glad to answer your queries.