UPDATE: This Q&A offers a great chance to address the "is celiac an allergy or not" question with actual medical definitions. (And maybe clarify that celiac disease is mostly hereditary, but is not determined by any specific gene or set of genes).
Celiac disease is indeed a form of wheat allergy. However, the correct phrase is to say that Celiac Disease is not an IgE allergy. By all technical definitions celiac disease is not only a gluten sensitivity, it is also an allergy.
Allergies are defined by the involvement of the immune system. In Celiac Disease the immune system is definitely involved. There are subsets of allergies, such as IgE (a class of antibody) allergies and non-IgE allergies. There are also very specific IgE gluten allergies, and even IgE wheat allergies.
All of this will be discussed in my upcoming class "Advanced Course in Food Allergy, Intolerance, in Sensitivity" to be offered October 1st. More information is available at InnateHealthClasses.com. Other dates and locations will be coming in the next few months.
What Is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is a hereditary allergy to gluten that results in damage to the small intestine. Common symptoms include loose stools, fatigue, weight loss and generally poor health.
However, symptoms can vary widely and include constipation, weight gain, and a skin condition called dermatitis herpetiformis.
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten is responsible for the springiness and stretchiness of bread. Without it, bread turns out heavy and dense.
How Is Celiac Disease Diagnosed?
Celiac disease can be assessed by blood tests or by a biopsy of the small intestine performed during an upper endoscopy. The blood tests include the tissue transglutaminase antibody test and the newer deamidated gliadin antibody test. The endomysial antibody test is older and is not as senstive as the newer tests.
How Common Is Celiac Disease?
The occurrence of celiac disease is much higher than previously thought. A recent study put the prevalence at 1 in every 133 people, making it one of the most common genetic diseases known. Once diagnosed, 1 in 22 first degree relatives, and 1 in 39 second degree relatives, is also diagnosed positive.
How Is Celiac Disease Different from a Gluten Intolerance?
Although celiac disease is a gluten allergy, it is only one form of gluten allergy. Many react to gluten and may have elevated serum antigliadin antibodies, but they do not have damage to the small intestine. These people have a negative biopsy of the small intestine, as well as negative antiendomysial antibody and tissue transglutaminase tests.
How Common Are Gluten Allergies?
Although no studies have been done on the prevalence of gluten intolerance, the prevalence of gluten allergies is certainly higher than that of celiac disease alone.
Article Courtesy: Dr. Stephen Wangen