About gluten sensitivity or intolerance
Although non-celiac gluten intolerance or sensitivity is still not completely understood by researchers, it is generally accepted among healthcare professionals as a distinct clinical condition. Typically, gluten intolerance or sensitivity generally takes one of two forms: one with characteristics more similar to celiac disease and the other with characteristics more similar to a food allergy.
Given the varying degrees of severity and symptoms of gluten sensitivity, researchers believe the prevalence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity to be much higher than that of celiac disease. It is estimated 6% of the U.S. population, or as many as 18 million people, suffers from gluten sensitivity.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
This group reacts with some of the same symptoms as people with celiac disease (gastrointestinal pain or bloating, diarrhea, fatigue) but gluten-sensitive individuals typically test negative for celiac disease in diagnostic blood tests and show no signs of the damage to the small intestine that defines celiac disease. Because of the lack of clarity around symptoms, no accurate or conclusive test for gluten intolerance has been found.
As such, it is generally advised that people who may suffer from gluten sensitivity speak with a dietitian and follow a gluten-free diet to relieve symptoms. If following a gluten-free diet does not alleviate symptoms, it is advised patients speak with their doctors, as they may be suffering from something other than gluten intolerance.
Division of Internal Medicine, Hospital of Sciacca, ASP, Agrigento, Italy; Centro per lo Studio e la Curia della Mallatia Celiaca, Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, University of Pavia, Italy.
Packaged Facts. Gluten-Free Foods and Beverages in the U.S., 4th Edition. October 2012