Gluten Sensitivity

Gluten sensitivity is a reaction to gluten—a protein in wheat, rye, and barley—that can result in wide-ranging symptoms from gastrointestinal issues, headache, brain fog, neuropathy, and depression. Also known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), it is a relatively newly recognized condition that is diagnosed based on eliminating other conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What tests diagnose gluten sensitivity?

    There is currently no definitive test for NCGS; it is diagnosed based on the elimination of other causes, namely celiac disease. Testing for celiac starts with blood work. Celiac is confirmed through a biopsy of the small intestine with an endoscopy. If celiac is ruled out and eliminating gluten relieves the symptoms, a NCGS diagnosis may be made.

  • Can you reduce gluten sensitivity?

    People who are sensitive to gluten should follow a gluten-free diet to avoid reactions. There is currently no way to reduce gluten sensitivity. Research suggests an enzyme that helps to digest gluten—aspergillus niger-derived prolyl endoprotease (AN-PEP)—could help prevent reactions in people with gluten sensitivity.

  • What is the difference between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity?

    Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which eating foods that contain gluten triggers the white blood cells to attack the lining of the small intestine, ultimately eroding it until it's worn smooth. The gastrointestinal symptoms of pain, bloating, cramping and diarrhea are similar between the two. However, complications seen in people with celiac disease are not seen in people with gluten sensitivity.

  • What are the symptoms of gluten sensitivity?

    The symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity are similar to celiac disease and include abdominal pain, diarrhea, pain below the rib cage, nausea, excessive air swallowing, gastroesophageal reflux, mouth ulcers, alternating bowel habits, and constipation.

Key Terms

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  1. Barbaro MR, Cremon C, Stanghellini V, Barbara G. Recent advances in understanding non-celiac gluten sensitivity. F1000Res. 2018;7:1631. doi:10.12688/f1000research.15849.1

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