Symptoms of Celiac Disease

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Am I Intolerant to Gluten?

Celiac disease, wheat allergy, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity can cause similar symptoms but have different implications for your health.Non-celiac gluten sensitivity can only be diagnosed after celiac disease and wheat allergy are ruled out.Celiac disease and wheat allergy have symptoms that can be life-threatening or lead to serious health problems.

Many people experience digestive and health problems caused by eating gluten or wheat. If you or your child is experiencing an intolerance to gluten or wheat, there are three different medical conditions that could explain what’s going on: wheat allergy, celiac disease, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barley, and rye. Wheat is a grain most commonly found in breads, pastas, and cereal. Wheat often appears in foods like soups and salad dressings as well. Barley is commonly found in beer and in foods containing malt. Rye is most often found in rye bread, rye beer, and some cereals.

Keep reading to learn the common symptoms and causes of wheat allergy, celiac disease, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity so that you can begin to understand which of the conditions you might have.

Am I Intolerant to Gluten?

Wheat is one of the top eight food allergens in the United States. A wheat allergy is an immune response to any of the proteins present in wheat, including but not limited to gluten. It’s most common in children. About 65 percent of children with a wheat allergy outgrow it by the time they are 12.

Symptoms of wheat allergy include:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • irritation of the mouth and throat
  • hives and rash
  • nasal congestion
  • eye irritation

Symptoms related to a wheat allergy will usually begin within minutes of consuming the wheat. However, they can begin up to two hours after.

The symptoms of a wheat allergy can range from mild to life-threatening. Severe difficulty breathing, known as anaphylaxis, can sometimes occur. Your doctor will likely prescribe you an epinephrine auto-injector (such as an EpiPen) if you are diagnosed with a wheat allergy. You can use this to prevent anaphylaxis if you accidentally eat wheat.

Am I Intolerant to Gluten?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which your immune system responds abnormally to gluten. Gluten is present in wheat, barley, and rye. Eating gluten will cause your immune system to destroy your villi if you have celiac disease. The villi are the finger-like parts of your small intestine that are responsible for absorbing nutrients. Without healthy villi, you won’t be able to get the nutrition that you need. This can lead to malnutrition. Celiac disease can have serious health consequences, including permanent intestinal damage.

Adults and children often experience different symptoms due to celiac disease. Children will most commonly have digestive symptoms. These can include:

  • abdominal bloating and gas
  • chronic diarrhea
  • constipation
  • pale, foul-smelling stool
  • stomach pain
  • nausea and vomiting

The failure to absorb nutrients during critical years of growth and development can lead to other health problems. These can include:

  • failure to thrive in infants
  • delayed puberty in adolescents
  • short stature
  • irritability in mood
  • weight loss
  • dental enamel defects