Celiac Disease Vs. Gluten Sensitivity
If your body reacts negatively to the ingestion of gluten, you may have a gluten intolerance. Celiac disease (CD) and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) share many of the same symptoms. These should not be confused with a wheat allergy. While CS and NCGS demonstrate gastrointestinal symptoms, such as cramping, a wheat allergy is more external, such as itching and hives.
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is what we call the proteins in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. These proteins help certain foods hold their shape. When flour mixes with water, gluten acts as a kind of glue to hold the mixture together. Wheat is found in bread, cereal, pasta, baked goods, such as cookies, salad dressing and some soups. Barley is found in beer, soups, food coloring, and malt. You can find rye in some beers, cereals, and certain types of rye bread.
Celiac disease occurs in genetically predisposed people, and it is a serious autoimmune disease. Ingestion of gluten causes the immune system to attack and damage the villi in the small intestine, which help the body absorb nutrients. This disease runs in families, as well as people with a first degree relative with the disease who have a one in ten risk of also developing it. Stress, some infections, and trauma can activate the disease. Experts estimate that 1% of the population has the disease, but roughly 83% of these people are living undiagnosed. The only treatment available is to maintain a gluten-free diet. CD can in turn lead to the development of several other disorders, such as Type 1 Diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
Some symptoms of celiac disease include:
- cramping, diarrhea and constipation
- bone or joint pain
- stunted growth
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS)
This condition may result in some of the same symptoms as celiac disease, but it does not seem to cause damage to the intestines. However, experts have recognized these symptoms could be due to poor digestion or what is known as the placebo effect. Because many of the population uses self-diagnoses opposed to getting tested by a doctor, the actual numbers on how prevalent NCGS are inaccurate.
A wheat allergy is an allergic reaction to foods containing wheat, and is different than a gluten intolerance. Most children that are diagnosed grow out of the allergy. When adults develop a wheat allergy, it’s usually a cross-sensitivity to a grass/pollen allergy. Symptoms usually develop in a few minutes to a few hours.
Some symptoms include:
- Irritation of the mouth or throat
- Itchy, swollen skin in the form of a rash
- Cramps, nausea, or vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the throat
- Tightness in the chest
- Restricted breathing
- Elevated heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
If you think you have a gluten intolerance or wheat allergy, get tested by your doctor! Don’t self-diagnose and treat yourself with a gluten free diet without consulting a doctor, there could be a larger issue at bay.
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