If you have a gluten allergy, do you have celiac disease?

An allergy to gluten, which is by no means an allergy but actually a gluten intolerance, is not the same as celiac disease.

Food allergies are reactions of the immune system to foods that are considered harmful to the body. Intolerance is a reaction from the digestive tract. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder, in which the immune system attacks and tries to destroy the body’s own tissues. In the case of celiac disease, the immune system attacks the small intestine.

Symptoms of gluten intolerance and celiac disease are similar; Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains. These symptoms include digestive problems, such as abdominal pain, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms can lead to weight loss, anemia and poor intake or malabsorption of nutrients, as well as weakness, chronic fatigue and memory or concentration problems.

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In addition to gastrointestinal symptoms, gluten intolerance and celiac disease can cause skin irritation, headaches, joint pain, muscle cramps and neurological complaints, including tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, and even seizures. They can also cause irritability, behavioral changes and depression, as well as infertility and fetal loss.

Your doctor can test you for celiac disease by doing a blood test for antibodies. If blood tests show that you may have celiac disease, your doctor should perform a biopsy of your small intestine for confirmation. There is no test for gluten intolerance, so to find out if you are gluten intolerant, you should go on an elimination diet and then slowly reintroduce foods one at a time until you figure out which one is causing the symptoms.

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