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Coeliac disease - allergy, intolerance, or what?


Excerpt from Gluten-free Friends Fall 1996 (Vol. 2, No. 3) R. Jean Powell, editor Montana Celiac Society 1019 So. Bozeman Ave. #3 Bozeman, MT 59715.

Allergies, intolerances, and coeliac disease are all different, Cleo Anderson explains. Allergies affect 7% of children and 2% of adults, and usually involve one or more of: milk, eggs, wheat, soybeans, nuts, and peanuts (legumes). Allergy reactions include asthma, arthritis, runny nose, itching, and rashes; and sometimes persistent diarrhea.

Most children outgrow allergies within a few years, and a number of adults report that allergies can disappear if they stay away from the offending foods for a year or more. Allergies are potentially fatal if they trigger an anaphylactic reaction. Allergy reactions are caused by the immune system. [Allergies involve IgE antibodies, which are different from the antibodies involved in CD--editor.]

Intolerances are unlike allergies in that they have nothing to do with the antibodies our immune systems produce. A food intolerance is a non-immune reaction to food or food additives. Gluten intolerance causes difficulty digesting gluten and exhibits mild symptoms ranging from runny noses and wheezing to digestive upsets such as abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea.

CD, also known as gluten enteropathy, is neither an allergy nor an intolerance. Gluten enteropathy causes damage to the lining in the small intestine, which interferes with the absorption of nutrients. Neither allergies nor intolerances lead to this sort of intestinal damage.

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The above article is from The Sprue-nik Press, published by the Tri-County Celiac Sprue Support Group (TCCSSG), a chapter of CSA/USA in southeast Michigan. Members receive a newsletter, a shopping guide, and a new member packet full of articles and useful information. Mail-in subscriptions are welcome. For subscription information, send a note to
Mary Guerriero
dmguerrie AT aol.com.

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