The Low-Down on Celiac Disease: What it is and How it Differs from Gluten Intolerance

by Callum Allan on Nov 11, 2022

The Low-Down on Celiac Disease: What it is and How it Differs from Gluten Intolerance

You may have heard the terms ‘celiac disease’ and ‘gluten intolerance’ used interchangeably, but they actually refer to two different conditions. Here’s a quick guide to help you understand the difference between the two, plus some key facts about celiac disease.


What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive system. When people with celiac disease eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley and rye), their immune system reacts by damaging the lining of the small intestine. This can lead to nutrient malabsorption and a host of other problems including fatigue, Bone or joint pain, Arnold-Chiari malformation, Anxiety or depression, Skin rashes, including dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), Headaches or migraines. In severe cases, celiac disease can even be life-threatening.


How is it Different from Gluten Intolerance?

Gluten intolerance, on the other hand, is a general term used to describe any negative reaction to gluten. It is not an autoimmune disorder like celiac disease, but rather a sensitivity to gluten that can cause symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and nausea. While the symptoms of celiac disease and gluten intolerance can be similar, it’s important to note that they are not the same condition. Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that can have long-term health implications if left untreated, while gluten intolerance is more of a nuisance than a health threat.



Now that you know the difference between celiac disease and gluten intolerance, you can make sure you get the right diagnosis if you experience any negative symptoms after eating gluten. If you think you may have either condition, talk to your doctor about getting tested. And remember, if you have celiac disease, the only treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet – so make sure you do your research and know what foods to avoid!