(718) 336-3900

Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance

Consumption of gluten – containing foods (wheat, rye and barley) is a trigger of gluten-related disorders including celiac disease, non – celiac gluten intolerance or sensitivity, and wheat allergy. Symptoms of intolerance are similar in all gluten-related illnesses.

Non-celiac gluten intolerance is a condition where people experience symptoms similar to those of celiac disease when they ingest wheat products. Unlike celiac disease, however, non-celiac gluten intolerance does not involve the immune system attacking the small intestine tissue when exposed to gluten. Non-celiac gluten intolerance is also known as non-celiac wheat sensitivity (NCWS), or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).

Non-celiac gluten intolerance is defined as a syndrome of symptomatic response to gluten ingestion in patients without celiac disease and wheat allergy. Ingestion of wheat containing foods triggers symptoms similar to celiac disease that improve once wheat containing foods has been removed from the diet.

Non-celiac gluten intolerance is believed to be caused by a reaction to the proteins in wheat, but the exact cause is unknown. It is thought to be a type of sensitivity, rather than an autoimmune reaction.

Non-celiac gluten intolerance can affect people of all ages and is thought to be caused by a reaction to the proteins found in wheat, rather than gluten itself.

People with non-celiac gluten intolerance have the same symptoms as people with celiac disease, including abdominal bloating and pain in the upper or lower abdomen, canker sores, diarrhea, nausea, altered bowel habits and constipation. Non-gastrointestinal symptoms can also occur and include fatigue, headaches, joint or muscle pain, and skin rashes.

The onset of symptoms usually occurs within hours or a few days after ingesting gluten. This distinguishes intolerance or sensitivity from wheat allergy where symptoms develop within in minutes to hours. However, celiac symptoms require investigation to rule out celiac disease.

Unfortunately, there is no test available to confirm the presence of non-celiac gluten intolerance at this time. When a patient has celiac like symptoms diagnosis requires ruling out celiac disease and wheat allergy. This involves the elimination of wheat from the diet for a period of time followed by reintroduction to see if symptoms recur. If the patient’s symptoms have resolved with this testing, the diagnosis of non-celiac gluten intolerance can be made. Otherwise, additional testing is required.

There is no cure for non-celiac gluten intolerance, but the symptoms can be managed by avoiding foods that contain wheat and other gluten-containing grains. A gluten-free diet is the only treatment for non-celiac gluten intolerance. Additionally, some research suggests that a low FODMAP diet may be beneficial.

If you think you may have non-celiac gluten intolerance, it is important to see a specialist at Gastroenterology Associates of Brooklyn to receive the correct diagnosis. They can rule out other conditions with similar symptoms, such as celiac disease, and help you create a gluten-free diet that meets your nutritional needs.