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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Four Big Differences Between Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Photo: CC--Jukka Zitting

    Celiac.com 05/08/2015 - While it's true that all people with celiac disease are intolerant to gluten, not all people who are intolerant to gluten have celiac disease.

    Photo: CC--Jukka ZittingSeveral studies have confirmed the existence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), a hypersensitivity or form of gluten intolerance that causes numerous symptoms similar to those of celiac disease.

    There are several key differences between celiac disease and NCGS. NCGS is distinguished from celiac disease by the following factors:

    1. No Hereditary Link
      Unlike celiac disease, NCGS is not hereditary, and shows no genetic component.
       
    2. No Connection with Celiac-related Disorders
      Unlike celiac disease, NCGS is so far not associated with malabsorption, nutritional deficiencies, or a higher risk of autoimmune disorders or intestinal malignancies.
       
    3. No Immumological or Serological Markers
      Researchers have, as yet, identified no immunologic mechanisms or serologic markers for NCGS. That means that, unlike with celiac disease, there are no telltale screening tests that can point to NCGS.
       
    4. Absence of Celiac Disease or Wheat Allergy
      Doctors diagnose NCGS only by excluding both celiac disease, and an IgE-mediated allergy to wheat, and by the continued presence of adverse symptoms associated with gluten consumption.

    Diagnosing celiac disease can be challenging. Misdiagnosis is common, and final and accurate diagnosis can take years and visits to numerous doctors.

    Because of these key differences, non-celiac gluten sensitivity is often even more slippery and difficult to confirm than celiac disease, itself.

    How about you? Do you or someone you know have celiac disease or NCGS? Share your story in our comments section below.

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    25 years ago my mother nearly died. She was being fed intravenously and had constant diarrhea. A young woman doctor finally took a look at her and realized it was gluten. She's still alive and sassy.

    The doctor suggested that anyone in our family who had intestinal issues should try going gluten free for at least a year. Many of us did, and most all our family are gluten free now. Point is, we don't need to go to a bunch of doctors and get a bunch of tests to "prove" we have celiac disease or an allergy or whatever. We just quit eating gluten and we are all healthier because of it. It's a simple diet change. Just do it and move on.

    Brilliant! I agree!

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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