Celiac and Wheat Allergy – Similar But Not the Same
Celiac disease, gluten intolerance and wheat allergy are very different conditions that are often mistaken for one another. The symptoms are similar, the treatment similar, but they are fundamentally different.
What is wheat allergy?
Wheat 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 and, 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 accidentally ingested.
What is 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 and loses the ability to absorb nutrients. However, once treated, the condition may be reversed.
What is gluten intolerance?
Gluten intolerance is when you get sick after eating gluten. For example, you might feel bloated, gassy or tired. However, gluten intolerance is not a life-threatening disease and will not damage the small intestine lining.
A visit to your family physician is the first step in diagnosing whether you have wheat allergies or celiac disease. The only way to diagnose gluten intolerance is by avoiding gluten. If you feel better, then you know you have gluten intolerance.
Once diagnosed, the treatment for both Celiac disease and gluten allergy is the same. Exclude wheat and or grains that contain gluten from your diet.
I highly recommend that you become a dedicated label reader since almost all processed foods contain gluten in one ingredient or another.
If you are looking for inspirations or easy gluten-free recipes, check out our complete list of gluten-free recipes ranging from breakfast to delicious desserts.