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researchher

What's The Difference Anyway?

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I'm gunning up to go to the GI on the 24th. I have been nearly gluten-free for a month or more (although I think I have been poisoned by it in small amounts each day by my lack of knowledge). I most definitely know it is making a difference in my health, so it would be paramount that I stay on this diet. My problem is that I can't fathom that my life is going to be this way forever (I guess that's denial, hu?) I haven't been diagnosed with anything yet. I was wondering what is the difference between wheat allergy, gluten intolerance or sensitivity, and celiac. What is the difference in testing and symptoms? Can any of these get better with time? I get so sick from eating even small amounts that I don't know how I can be tested for a biopsy for celiacs?

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Gluten allergy/wheat allergy: An IgE mediated allergic response to gluten. This is like a peanut allergy. You get hives, have trouble breathing, become itchy, your throat swells up, your blood presuure drops, etc. Some people also have diarrhea and vomiting, others do not. A true gluten allergy is not that common, dare I use the term rare.

Celiac Disease: An autoimmune disease that affects just under 1% of the population. In an autoimmune disease the body responds to a trigger, and attacks its own healthy tissue mistakenly. The is always a genetic disposition and environmental trigger needed for an autoimmune disease to develop. In Celiacs, whole gluten particles leak into the "leaky gut" and trigger an abnormal immune response. The body also then attacks the small intestine, much like it would attack a virus. This response is IgG and IgA mediated. These are different antibodies than allergy antibodies.

Note that a person can have *both* a gluten/wheat allergy and Celiac Disease.

"Gluten intolerance": This is a grey are of people who seem to react to gluten but do not have Celiac Disease or an allergy. Some people have Celiac antibodies in their blood, but no intestinal damage yet. Some people call these people "gluten sensitive", but they really have what's called "Latent Celiac Disease". Most people who call themselves gluten sensitive have no abnormal Celiac tests. No one knows why they react to gluten. It could be an enzyme deficiency that you are born with or develop , like lactose intolerance, or something else, like acquired gluten intolerance due to another condition, like having Lyme Disease. Some people also suggest that heavy metals play a role. Another idea is that genetically modified gluten is causing a leaky gut even in those who would otherwise not have the genetics to develop it naturally. These people react to gluten but do not get intestinal damage. Most doctors do not recognize non-Celiac gluten intolerance, so there is little research on the topic.

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Is there any difference at all in the severity of symptoms between gluten sensitivity and celiac disease?

I would say it depends on the person, not on the condition. Some Celiacs react severely, some don't. This is completely independent of the amount of damage they experience when glutened. Likewise, some people with gluten sensitivity react more severely than others. Sometimes Celiac is referred to as a "severe" form of "gluten intolerance", because Celiacs have intestinal damage. That really isn't an accurate way to describe the fact that both groups can have "severe" symptoms. However, intestinal damage *does* increase the risk for intestinal cancer in Celiacs.

Some people on here think that only gluten sensitive people have neuro symptoms, but that's not true. I have Celiac Disease, and I had neuro symptoms and depression prior to my dx.

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