Gluten sensitivity is a term that is applied interchangeably with intolerance. In one sense, any individual who has celiac disease is actually gluten “sensitive”. However, the term should be used to describe patients who can get a variety of symptoms when they eat gluten and feel better on a gluten-free diet but do not have celiac disease.
It is best to refer this condition as “non-celiac gluten sensitivity”. There is no mediation by IgE and TTG antibody is not present. The biopsy is normal and there is no damage to the intestine.
Common symptoms of gluten sensitivity include abdominal pain similar to irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue, headaches and paresthesia (tingling of the extremities). There is also a possibility that a subgroup of patients with psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia might be affected by gluten sensitivity.
The phenomenon of gluten sensitivity is being researched. The prevalence of this condition is not well known as there is no diagnostic test available and individuals often diagnose themselves. It is also not clear if this is a permanent problem or whether some may outgrow this over time.
From “Gluten-Related Disorders: Understanding the Terminology”, Dr. Mohsin Rashid, Celiac News, November 2011.