What is the difference between gluten sensitivity and celiac disease?

Doctor's Answers (1)

Dr Quan Wai Leong

"A specialist in Digestive Health and Advanced Endoscopy"

Celiac disease is a genetic disorder involving the body immune system which is triggered by the ingestion of food containing a family of proteins known as gluten. Gluten is present naturally in wheat, rye and barley and therefore found in many food products. Besides the special genetic associations, specific antibodies are usually present in the blood streams of people with celiac disease. These antibodies are important in making the diagnosis as well as monitoring of disease progression. In a classical case of celiac disease, tissue samples taken from the small intestine through endoscopy will show characteristic changes under a microscope. 

Gluten sensitivity, on the other hand, is a less well known entity with symptoms believed to be related to the ingestion of gluten containing food. Like any other food allergy or sensitivity, the symptoms vary widely among individuals and most people suspected having gluten sensitivity find it challenging to confirm the diagnosis besides having symptomatic improvement when gluten is eliminated from their diet. In general, there is much overlap in the symptoms of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity although celiac disease tends to be more severe in nature with more significant complications if left untreated.

- Dr Quan 

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