Gluten Sensitivity vs Celiac Disease: Know the Difference


Gluten is a buzzword today. You can’t go to a restaurant or grocery store without seeing a variety of options labeled “gluten-free.” So why is gluten bad for some people?

Going on a gluten-free diet has become a trend in American society. There are some people who can benefit from eliminating gluten from their diets. Those who do so to improve their health may end up doing more harm than good. People with either celiac disease or wheat sensitivity can benefit from a gluten-free diet, but only after getting an accurate diagnosis.

What is Gluten Sensitivity?

Gluten sensitivity is much lower in severity than gluten intolerance but still produces real symptoms. People that are gluten sensitive may have gastrointestinal symptoms such as pain, bloating or diarrhea but may also experience symptoms outside the GI tract such as headaches, fatigue, a feeling of fogginess and numbness or tingling in their extremities. Because the symptoms of gluten sensitivity can be vague and there is not a blood test or exam for diagnosis, it is important to discuss your concerns with your physician. Formulate an action plan for cutting out gluten and monitor for symptom improvement.

What is Celiac Disease?

People with celiac disease experience an immune response when they eat wheat, rye, barley, or oats. Symptoms can start during early childhood or during adulthood. Symptoms vary from person to person and include abdominal bloating and pain, vomiting, constipation, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, or fatigue. Some people who test positive for the disorder never experience any symptoms.

Celiac disease leads to damage of the villi which line the intestinal wall. This prevents nutrients from being absorbed, leading to serious conditions like iron and other types of deficiencies. Some people develop seizures or migraines, canker sores inside the mouth, and may suffer from depression or anxiety.

What is Celiac Disease?

Untreated celiac disease can result in long-term health complications. The person might develop early osteoporosis, infertility or miscarriage, nervous system disorders, or pancreatic insufficiency. It isn’t just the symptoms that need to be treated. It’s the damage that untreated celiac disease can cause without the person’s knowledge.

If you feel like you may suffer from gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity, or Celiac Disease, talk with your doctor about your concerns. Try removing gluten from your diet for a trial period of at least 4 weeks and be careful to read labels including dressings, sauces and dry mixes and check the ingredient list for gluten. 

The doctors at The Woman’s Clinic are here to help you navigate the sometimes confusing world of gluten intolerance. You can make an appointment by clicking here.

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