What is the Difference Between Gluten Intolerance & Celiac Disease?

woman not wanting bread, gluten free Gluten intolerance and celiac disease are diseases that affect your digestive system. While they might seem similar, these are different conditions. Understanding the differences between the two can help ensure that you get the proper treatment.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is a condition in which consuming gluten leads to an immune system response. When you have foods with gluten, your immune system attacks your intestinal lining. This can lead to damage over time, as well as malnutrition. Your risk of other health problems, such as osteoporosis, is also higher with celiac disease. Symptoms include:
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea

What is Gluten Intolerance?

Gluten intolerance, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, is a condition that has some similarities to celiac disease in terms of symptoms. However, the cause of this condition is different. Gluten intolerance occurs when gluten triggers inflammation in your digestive tract and outside of it. The symptoms that occur with gluten intolerance are similar to those that occur with celiac disease. However, gluten intolerance does not cause intestinal damage.

Differences Between Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease

Celiac disease and gluten intolerance differ in their cause and their treatment approaches. It’s important to know which condition you have in order to get the proper treatment to relieve symptoms or lower the risk of complications. Gluten intolerance doesn’t cause damage to your intestines, but celiac disease does. Celiac disease is also related to autoimmune diseases, while gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity is not. If you suspect that you have one of these conditions, you should consult with your doctor. Blood tests can diagnose celiac disease, while eliminating gluten from your diet can help diagnose gluten intolerance. Your doctor can discuss treatment options with you when you know which condition you have.

Treatment for Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance

Celiac disease treatment involves following a gluten-free diet. Doing this can help prevent symptoms and reduce your risk of malnutrition, intestinal damage, and other complications. If you have celiac disease, you should avoid the following foods:
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Farina
  • Malt
  • Spelt
  • Semolina
  • Durum
  • Graham flour
  • Triticale

You should also look for gluten in products such as vitamin supplements, herbal supplements, food preservatives, medications, toothpaste, and lipstick. If you have a nutritional deficiency, your doctor might recommend taking supplements, such as vitamin D or zinc, to correct this. If you have severe damage to your intestine, your doctor might have you take medication to manage inflammation.

For gluten intolerance, you should go over treatment options with your doctor before making any changes to your diet. Your doctor might recommend avoiding all foods with gluten to see if your symptoms improve. Since gluten intolerance is not the same as celiac disease and is not considered a food allergy, you might not need to avoid gluten in your diet altogether.

If you are having symptoms of gluten intolerance or celiac disease, contact Gotham Gastroenterology for an appointment. Our specialists can offer a special diet plan tailored to your needs for both gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease.

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