Celiac Disease 101

Celiac Disease, Wheat Allergy and Gluten Intolerance

These three disorders often get lumped together but, in reality, they are very different.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition, which occurs because the body's immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake.

On the other hand, a wheat allergy is an allergy to food — like a nut allergy or a shellfish allergy. An allergy to wheat can be deadly if severe, and may cause hives, swelling, itching and difficulty breathing. However, patients with a wheat allergy may be able to eat other grains, such as barley.

Gluten intolerance, while similar in its symptoms to celiac disease, does not cause intestinal damage or produce antibodies (proteins used by the immune system to identify and attack foreign matter, such as bacteria and viruses). However, gluten sensitivity may eventually lead to celiac disease.

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Review Date: 
June 24, 2015

Last Updated:
June 24, 2015