Gluten Allergy vs. Gluten Intolerance - Facts and Common Misconceptions
There are millions of people in the United States that live with the challenges of gluten sensitivity every day, and the symptoms can range from mild and barely noticeable to completely debilitating. However, contrary to popular misconception, intolerance to this protein is not a gluten allergy. Unlike many food allergies, food intolerance is not a result of the body attacking gluten, and it usually does not cause damage to the body. Celiac disease, which is a more severe type of gluten intolerance, can cause damage to the intestine, but in this case it is caused by the body attacking its own cells rather than attacking the allergen.
Food and gluten intolerance differ from a food or gluten allergy in the way the body reacts to the presence of the catalyst. The body reacts to food intolerance only when the food is consumed, rather than simply touched or smelled. Gluten intolerance often causes minor symptoms, and generally does not cause significant damage or disruption to sufferers. Many people who suffer from gluten intolerance eat a gluten-free diet in order to avoid uncomfortable, but non-life threatening symptoms.
A gluten allergy, on the other hand, elicits a much different response when the protein is present. If a sufferer eats, or even touches, something that has gluten in it, it causes a severe physical response in which the body attacks the gluten protein. A gluten allergy is most commonly associated with an allergy to wheat, since gluten is the most common protein in that grain family. However, unlike gluten intolerance, people who suffer from a wheat allergy are often still able to eat foods that contain barley and rye. When you compare the symptoms of gluten intolerance to those of a gluten allergy, the differences are obvious:
|Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance:
- Abdominal cramps
- Weight loss
Symptoms of a Gluten (or Wheat) Allergy:
- Asthma or trouble breathing
- Hay fever
- Tissue swelling
- Chest pains
Once you educate yourself on the difference between food intolerance and food allergies, you will be able to get a better idea of the best course of action for you. If you suspect you may be suffering from gluten intolerance or a gluten allergy it is important to speak with your physician. He or she may be able to assist you with getting a better understanding of your condition and offer gluten treatment
solutions that will work best for you and your family.