Defining Wheat Sensitivity

Wheat sensitivity may show up like an allergy or with bowel symptoms

(RxWiki News) Wheat sensitivity may show up as nausea or in bowel problems. A recent study found that some people with wheat sensitivity had symptoms more like celiac disease, while others had symptoms more like a food allergy.

A history of food allergies may be related to the way wheat sensitivity shows up. People with more than one food allergy showed wheat sensitivity more like an allergy, such as having skin reactions.

"Talk to your doctor about any digestion problems."

The study, led by Antonio Carroccio, MD, of the Hospital of Sciacca in Italy, looked to find what the hallmarks of wheat sensitivity might be.

They looked at the charts of 276 patients who had bowel symptoms, like diarrhea, and were given a diagnosis of wheat sensitivity. 

The researchers compared the patients with wheat sensitivity to patients with celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Compared to people with IBS, people with wheat sensitivity were more likely to have anemia, self-report problems with eating wheat products, weight loss and food allergy when they were babies.

By looking at a small part of the intestines, the researchers found that wheat sensitivity was related to activity of immune cells in the gut.

The researchers found that two groups emerged. People with only wheat sensitivity showed symptoms more like celiac disease, like having bowel symptoms.

The people with multiple food sensitivities showed wheat sensitivity symptoms more like an allergy, like having skin reactions or nausea.

The authors concluded that wheat sensitivity is a separate problem from celiac disease and IBS.

They also suggest that the way the symptoms show up can depend on the person’s history of food allergy.

Celiac disease is a genetic condition where gluten, found in wheat, is unable to be processed by the gut. It can cause diarrhea, fatigue, and muscle pain. Some people have little to no symptoms.

IBS is when chronic bowel problems, like diarrhea or constipation or both, and pain in the gut lead to interference with daily life.

This study was published July 24 in the American Journal of Gastroenterology. Funding information and conflicts of interest were not available.

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Review Date: 
August 17, 2012