What is the difference between wheat allergy and celiac disease?
Celiac disease (technical term is gluten-sensitive enteropathy/sprue)
Celiac disease is a permanent intolerance of the body to gluten. But it can also be regarded as an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten in corn types such as wheat, spelt, rye, barley, couscous, green corn and oats. Besides gluten as the antigen, genetic disposition and other, partially still unknown factors, are the conditions for the development of the gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is one of the most widely spread chronic diseases in the world. The rate of occurrence of celiac disease is about 1% in Europe, North Africa and regions where the majority of the population has European descendents (Australia, USA, Canada). The only therapy recognised scientifically is strict, life-long, gluten-free dieting.
Wheat allergy denotes an illness-triggering defensive reaction by the body to various proteins in wheat. Allergisation via the airways by breathing in grain dust results in “bakers’ asthma”. If allergisation via the gastrointestinal tract occurs by consuming wheat, the classic type IgE food allergy results. Wheat is one of the six main allergens for children. This allergy occurs more rarely in adults because it usually disappears by school age. As with celiac disease, the only really effective therapy is the strict avoidance of the triggering allergen. Given the similarities to the allergens, it is not only wheat that should be eliminated, it is also wild wheat, durum wheat, wild einkorn, emmer wheat, kamut, wild spelt wheat, spelt and green corn.
In the case of wheat allergies, individuals must abstain primarily from eating wheat. For celiac disease on the other hand, this strict abstinence includes all types of corn containing gluten (wheat, oats, barley, rye, spelt, triticale, emmer, kamut, green corn, wild einkorn, bulgur, couscous).