Similarities Between Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity

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Illnesses are an unfortunate part of human life, and are also the ones that are often misunderstood. Medical science has been nothing less than revolutionary, and thanks to that people now have adequate knowledge about some of the lesser known diseases. The matter of fact is without awareness, it’s difficult to take necessary precautions against a diseases. Misinformation about different kinds of ailments is one of the biggest concerns among physicians and general practitioners these days. Two such conditions which are often misunderstood are celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, which may sometimes lead to confusion and misdiagnosis. In this article, we share some common aspects of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease, also called as gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is a gluten related autoimmune disorder that is triggered when you eat gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. When you eat something that contains gluten, your immune system would attack your digestive system and damage the intestines, making it difficult for you to absorb nutrients from food. Living with the celiac disease is quite difficult in the modern world because almost every food product you buy contains gluten. It is an autoimmune condition that automatically triggers and your immune system reacts to gluten. It causes intense stomach pain, so it often misdiagnosed at least once before it is actually diagnosed.

What is gluten sensitivity?

Gluten is a mixture of proteins found primarily in wheat, barley, rye, and other hybrid grains. Gluten-sensitivity is a condition where your body starts reacting after eating gluten and you may experience pain and bloating. Bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and fatigue are some of the symptoms. Gluten sensitivity, unlike celiac disease, does not cause small intestine damage, and there are no specific biomarkers or diagnostic tests for it. The underlying cause of gluten sensitivity is not yet fully understood, and it remains unknown whether the same part of gluten-containing grains cause both celiac and gluten sensitive reactions.

Similarities between Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity

Autoimmune Response

– Both celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are autoimmune disorders that are caused by an automatic immune system response to gluten containing foods. Consuming gluten automatically triggers the immune system. Consuming gluten-containing foods can cause symptoms in both conditions, though the severity and type of symptoms may vary. Celiac disease is characterized by specific biomarkers whereas gluten sensitivity does not involve autoimmune reactions or specific biomarkers.

Signs and Symptoms

– Both the conditions cause intense abdominal pain followed by diarrhea, nausea, and fatigue, and other systematic symptoms can occur, which include bloating, constipation, headaches, joint pain, and brain fog. Gluten sensitivity, however, does not trigger an immune response or cause damage to intestine. Regardless, these symptoms can have an impact on both the digestive system and other parts of the body.

Diagnosis and Treatment

– People with celiac disease can suffer with symptoms for years before being diagnosed. The key to both the conditions is a healthy lifestyle and a gluten-free diet. Following a strict gluten-free diet reduces the risk of complications. Avoiding gluten-containing foods is the most effective way to manage both conditions. This is necessary to prevent small intestine damage in celiac disease, and it can help alleviate symptoms in gluten sensitivity.

Control and Prevention

– Both the conditions need to be carefully managed in order to reduce or prevent the symptoms. Individuals with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity must be very cautious about what they eat, especially the gluten-containing foods. This is critical in the case of celiac disease to avoid long-term complications such as malabsorption, osteoporosis, and an increased risk of certain cancers.


How celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are similar and different?

Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are both related to gluten where your body triggers an automatic response when you eat gluten-containing foods. Both the conditions exhibit almost the same symptoms – abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder whereas gluten sensitivity is a sensitivity or intolerance.

Is gluten intolerance the same as celiac disease?

Gluten intolerance is a sensitivity whereas celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. While both the conditions seem similar on the surface, they have different physical or GI symptoms that differ in severity.

Can you be sensitive to gluten but not have celiac?

Yes, people with non-celiac gluten or wheat sensitivity exhibit similar symptoms to that of celiac disease, which disappear when gluten is completely eliminated from the diet. This condition is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Is gluten sensitivity is much more serious that celiac disease?

No, celiac disease is much more serious condition that may lead to long-term health complications if left untreated. People with celiac disease can experience symptoms for decades before being diagnosed. While gluten sensitivity can also cause significant discomfort, it is generally considered less severe than celiac disease.

Is gluten sensitivity an autoimmune issue?

Gluten sensitivity is exactly what the name suggests – a sensitivity. It is a condition where you get sick after eating gluten and may experience abdominal pain, nausea or bloating. Gluten sensitivity is non-celiac meaning it does not necessarily have a full negative impact on the body as celiac disease has.

Can you test negative for celiac disease and still have gluten intolerance?

Yes, you can test negative for celiac disease while still having gluten intolerance or sensitivity. This is because celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder characterized by specific biomarkers and small intestine damage that can be detected through blood tests and biopsies. Gluten sensitivity, on the other hand, is a less well-defined condition that does not involve autoimmune reactions or specific biomarkers.

Author: Sagar Khillar

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