Gluten is a protein found in cereals such as barley, rye and wheat, with the most obvious sources of gluten in our diet coming from food items such as bread, cakes and pasta. While coeliac disease and gluten intolerance are related to gluten, they are different diseases with different causes.
What is coeliac disease?
The NHS defines coeliac disease as a condition where your immune system attacks your own tissue when you eat gluten. This damages your gut (small intestine), so you cannot absorb nutrients. It can also cause stomach pain. The symptoms of coeliac disease include:
- Stomach Pain
- Wind and Bloating
And these symptoms are triggered when gluten is eaten. There are also more general symptoms associated with coeliac disease, including:
- Difficulties with balance, coordination and speech
- Itchy rash on elbow, knees and buttocks
- Tingling in the hands or feet
- Unexplained weight loss
Recent research has shown that around one in one hundred people in the UK have coeliac disease, but only about 30% have been diagnosed. Many coeliac disease symptoms are mistakenly thought to be IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or an intolerance. If coeliac disease is untreated, it can lead to long-term health complications such as an increased risk of bowel cancer, certain types of anaemia, and weakening of the bones.
What is gluten intolerance?
If you are gluten intolerant but don’t have coeliac disease, then your body cannot digest gluten properly. This is sometimes known as non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. If you are gluten intolerant, then gluten will have less effect on your small intestine than coeliac disease. Gluten intolerance tends not to result in a leaky gut (intestinal permeability) – a characteristic usually associated with coeliac disease. A leaky gut allows bacteria, toxins and undigested food to seep through the intestinal barrier and into the bloodstream. Gluten intolerance is often considered an allergic reaction rather than a disease. Allergies, including gluten allergies, are associated with positive IgE assays. The symptoms of gluten intolerance are very similar to coeliac disease, but there are more non-stomach-related symptoms as well, such as
- brain fog
- joint pain
- numbness in arms, fingers and legs
How to test for gluten sensitivity
You can test for signs of gluten intolerance with Test2Go’s Gluten Sensitivity Test. This test checks for specific IgA anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies (tTGA) – a proven biomarker for coeliac disease – in the blood from a finger-prick blood sample. It allows you to check for gluten intolerance in the comfort of your home, with easy-to-follow instructions and reliable results. You can take charge of your health concerns by using this test to gain a better understanding of your gut and decide whether you need to take further steps or not. If you complete the self-test and are concerned about your results, you should contact your GP for more advice. Medical professionals should only make medical decisions about your health. NB. It is important to note that our tests are not a substitute for seeing a doctor, particularly if you have symptoms. It would help if you did not make a diagnosis or start any treatment without a consultation with a doctor or a suitably trained health professional.
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