Gluten Intolerance vs. True Celiac Disease

Many parents don’t understand the difference between a kid with a gluten intolerance and a kid with true Celiac disease. And, yes, there is a difference.

What's Inside

Gluten Intolerance vs. True Celiac Disease

Before we close out the month of May, I want to be sure to give some info celiac disease—it is Celiac Disease Awareness Month, after all. Did you know that about 30% of American’s are following some form of a gluten-free diet whether due to a medical condition or by choice?

Here’s the thing: Many parents don’t understand the difference between a kid with a true Celiac disease and a kid with other gluten disorders. And, yes, there is a difference.

Understanding Celiac Disease and Other Gluten Disorders

Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, triggers adverse reactions in individuals with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. However, the distinction between the two lies in the underlying mechanisms and severity of the conditions.

Celiac disease, also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is an autoimmune disorder characterized by the immune system's abnormal response to gluten ingestion. When kids with celiac disease consume gluten, their immune system attacks the lining of their small intestine, leading to inflammation and damage. This damage makes it harder to absorb nutrients, which then causes various symptoms ranging from gastrointestinal issues to fatigue and skin problems. Unlike gluten intolerance, celiac disease involves a genetic predisposition, with certain genes increasing susceptibility.

Other gluten disorders:

  1. Gluten intolerance, which we in the medical field sometimes refer to as non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), shares some symptoms with celiac disease, such as bloating, abdominal pain, and fatigue. However, it does not involve the immune system's attack on the small intestine. Instead, gluten intolerance is a more generalized sensitivity to gluten, leading to discomfort and digestive disturbances without causing the intestinal damage seen in celiac disease. Of note, some GI experts believe this intolerance is just to wheat and not all gluten containing grains.

  2. Wheat allergy is a true allergic response (IgE mediated) to wheat protein not gluten.

My ask: Please stop saying you have Celiac’s if you actually have gluten intolerance.

Subscribe to Premium to read the rest.

Become a paying subscriber of Premium to get access to this post and other subscriber-only content.

Already a paying subscriber? Sign In

A subscription gets you:
Full access to entire library of articles + content.
Receive premium member-only newsletter with tips, alerts, and more.
Full safety recalls & alerts