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What is the difference between celiac disease and gluten intolerance?*

The following was posted by Kemp Randolph on the Celiac Listserv news group

The difference is that between two immune related reactions, allergy and intolerance. I asked the question of the technical difference between the two some time ago and got no response. Its not based on overt symptoms, thats for sure. Were also not talking about the difference between latent celiac disease and overt weight-loss, apple belly CD. You can be allergic and intolerant of the same substance or food In the case of milk, its lactose(milk carbohydrate) intolerance and milk protein allergy.

My non-professional stab at the difference between intolerance and allergy then. Both can lead to intestinal damage. Theres a table in Marshs book showing that --page 155 , figure 6.13. Type 3 damage (flat destructive ) can occur from milk, soy, egg.... as well as celiac disease.

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The reaction to an intolerance seems to be that the substance is not digested. The immune part of the response involves only the circulating immunoglobins IgA, maybe IgG and related immune cells, receptors.

The immune reaction to an allergy involves IgE. The substance may still be digested, but there may be allergic responses elsewhere outside the gut.

Apple belly celiac disease is an intolerance. The problems elsewhere in the body, except for cancer, are related to nutritional deficiencies. The link to other autoimmune diseases is statistical genetics when two (or more) genes for each of two conditions are close together.

For more information see the Allergy vs. Intolerance page. welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).

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7 Responses:

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said this on
16 Nov 2008 6:46:08 PM PDT
I still don't know the difference between them--they say they are different but how are they?

Marie Doherty
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said this on
15 Aug 2009 5:17:56 PM PDT
I do not understand either what the difference is between them!! Can someone clarify please

L. Rensch
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said this on
31 Aug 2010 1:13:50 PM PDT
You need to do some more research. Celiacs, allergies and intolerance do not all damage the gut. Celiacs is the only one that damages the gut and does not allow nutritional absorption. Food allergies cause allergy type symptoms-skin rashes, itchy skin, and/or tummy problems. Intolerance bother the tummy, cause no damage, and go away once food has passed through.

Laura Bachner
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said this on
25 Oct 2011 11:34:37 AM PDT
Um I hate to differ with you L. Rensch. I have gluten intolerance not celiac and I can officially tell you that as of now when I ingest gluten it takes 3 days for my tummy to be able to handle food well enough to feel normal again.

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said this on
28 Apr 2012 5:28:48 PM PDT
Isn't 3 days how long it typically takes your body to digest and expel food? Unless you have a particularly fast metabolism, it really is about getting the gluten out of your system whether your have an intolerance OR an allergy.

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said this on
20 Dec 2011 12:40:43 AM PDT
I just found out I'm. Allergic too!! It also takes about 3 days for my tummy to stop hurting!!


said this on
02 Dec 2014 10:52:16 AM PDT
I have heard diverticulitis is the after effect of years of gluten intolerance.....

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