Gluten Allergy vs. Celiac Disease

People allergic to gluten are not necessarily sufferers of celiac disease. Although both must follow much the same diet, the person only slightly allergic to gluten can have small amounts of gluten as long as they can tolerate them. The person suffering from celiac disease, must stay away from all gluten and gluten-laden products and by-products, including anything that contains natural flavorings, hard candy dusted with flour to prevent sticking although the flour is not listed on the ingredient list, many vinegars and soy sauce. If you suffer from gluten allergies, you must be aware of the products that have gluten even if the ingredient list does not state gluten.

The degree of the allergy ranges from mild to severe. Many symptoms are not noticeable. The symptoms range from irritability, to constipation or diarrhea, stomach pains following eating gluten-laden products, chronic fatigue, mouth ulcers, short stature in children, anemia, Crohn’s disease, skin problems and autism. Some of the symptoms may seem contradictory but you can get any of them at different times in reaction to the different forms of gluten you ingest.

Many small children that have a reaction to foods containing gluten will outgrow the allergy. Some of the symptoms that are immediate include swelling of the face, hives, asthma, skin rashes, vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms may take days for a reaction although this is less common. Many allergies are just a wheat allergy and not a gluten allergy.

Gluten is the ingredient in bread and baked goods that hold it together. Without gluten, breads would not be as airy and would be dense. Gluten is in many spices to prevent them from clumping and listed as natural flavoring on the ingredient list.

The only way to be sure, if you are allergic to gluten or if you suffer from celiac disease, is to be tested by your doctor. It may only take a skin prick test to test for the allergy or a blood test. Reducing your intake of gluten products can be enough for the person that only has a mild allergy to gluten. For the more severe cases, eliminating gluten and its by-products completely from your diet will be necessary. Supplements and/or allergy shots to bring your nutrients back to the proper level in your system may be necessary. Your doctor, allergist or nutritionist will guide you to the proper treatment.

Celiac disease affects those of European descent and is genetic. It affects the lining of the small intestine. Furthermore, gluten allergies can affect anyone and do not cause the damage that celiac disease does. If you notice that after eating gluten-laden food that you become uncomfortable or have stomach problems, or any of the above listed problems, try an elimination process in your eating habits. Take wheat, barley, rye and flour products out of your diet. If you begin feeling better, you may only have an allergy to gluten.

The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide by Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Peter Green

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