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Gluten and Wheat IntoleranceConditions
Overview

When some people consume wheat or gluten-containing foods, they experience symptoms similar to those of celiac disease, even though they don't test positive for celiac antibodies or show intestinal damage. This can be due to wheat intolerance or gluten sensitivity. Reasons behind feeling unwell after wheat consumption vary. For instance, it could be a reaction to poorly digestible carbohydrates like fructans found in wheat. Alternatively, a food allergy triggered by wheat called eosinophilic gastroenteritis might be the cause. A few individuals might experience digestive and non-digestive symptoms linked to all gluten sources, known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Differentiating Wheat Allergy and Celiac Disease

Wheat Allergy: This is an immune system reaction to wheat, involving IgE antibodies and causing acute inflammation.

Celiac Disease: An autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the gut lining upon exposure to gluten, leading to chronic inflammation and damage.

Symptoms

If consuming wheat or gluten leads to any of the following symptoms, you might have a sensitivity:

  • Bloating, gas, or abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue or mental fogginess
Testing

To evaluate symptoms of gluten sensitivity, blood tests will be performed to measure for celiac antibodies, and an allergist might conduct a skin prick test to rule out wheat allergy. If neither condition is detected, our GI dietitian team will help assess and manage symptoms through dietary adjustments. It is essential to differentiate between a true allergy or celiac disease and gluten sensitivity as these conditions require different treatment and long-term monitoring strategies.

Treatment

Once diagnosed, treatment depends on the specific sensitivity:

Fructan Intolerance: If it's related to poorly digestible fructans, our GI dietitian will guide you on trigger foods and may suggest enzymes for better tolerance.

Gluten Sensitivity/Eosinophilic Disorder: Similar care to celiac disease, involving gluten avoidance. Healing time is usually quicker, with symptom relief often seen within days of gluten elimination.

If you suspect wheat intolerance, gluten sensitivity, or celiac disease, consult a gastroenterologist and GI dietician.