Celiac and Wheat Allergy – Similar But Not the Same
Celiac disease and wheat allergy are two very different conditions that are often mistaken for one another. The symptoms are similar, the treatment similar, but the two are fundamentally different.
Wheat Allergy: An allergy is a response of the immune system, while celiac disease is not. When a person has an allergy, the immune system produces antibodies in response to a usually benign substance.Allergic reactions to wheat can result from eating wheat, but also, in some cases, by inhaling wheat flour. Wheat can be found in many foods, including some you might not suspect, such as beer, soy sauce and ketchup. Avoiding wheat is the primary treatment for wheat allergy. Medications may be necessary to manage allergic reactions if wheat is accidently ingested.
Celiac disease: Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease where the immune system reacts against gluten, one of the proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley. The gluten damages the lining of the small intestine so that it loses the ability to absorb nutrients. Once treated, the condition may be reversed.
A visit to your family physician is the first step in diagnosing whether you have wheat allergies or celiac disease. Once diagnosed, the treatment for both conditions is to exclude them from the diet. If you have either condition, we highly recommend that you become a dedicated label reader since almost all processed foods contain gluten in one ingredient or another.
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