Is it celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity?

Is it celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity?

People who have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) have reactions to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye or barley grains. 

But there are important differences between these conditions. 

Dr. Jimmy Kim, a gastroenterologist at Aurora Health Care, says, “Celiac disease causes damage to your small intestine and can have serious complications like anemia, arthritis, malnutrition, infertility, osteopenia, osteoporosis, other autoimmune disorders and even some kinds of cancer. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity doesn’t cause damage to your small intestine or lead to those complications.” 

However, the two conditions may have some similar symptoms including several digestive upsets such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, nausea or vomiting. Other common symptoms include: 

  • Fatigue 
  • Joint pain 
  • Tingling or numbness in your limbs, fingers and feet 
  • Difficulty with concentration, memory or confusion 
Testing and diagnosis 

Dr. Kim says the good news is that there are tests to accurately diagnose celiac disease. A blood test can check for anemia and substances in your blood that indicate celiac disease. Your doctor can also use a minimally invasive procedure to check your small intestine for telltale signs of inflammation or damage caused by celiac disease. Genetic testing may be suggested to identify if you have any genes related to the disease. 

Although there is not a diagnostic test for non-celiac gluten sensitivity, you can still find out if you have the condition. If you test negative for celiac disease, your doctor will base your diagnosis on your symptoms and test results to rule out other conditions.

Conditons with similar symptoms include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, intestinal infections, depression and lactose intolerance. 

If exposure to gluten is making you miserable, you don’t have to live with your symptoms. Instead, you can visit your doctor so you can make the changes needed to prevent potential damage to your small intestines and live a more comfortable life. 

Are you trying to make changes to your diet to lose weight? Take a free online quiz to learn more about your healthy weight range.

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About the Author

Jo Linsley
Jo Linsley

Jo Linsley, a health enews contributor, is a freelance copywriter at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. With decades of experience in writing and editing, she continues to aspire to concise and inspiring writing. She also enjoys knitting and singing as creative outlets and for their meditative qualities.