What are Gluten Syndromes?
Coeliac Disease is the flattening of the villi (microscopic finger-like projections) on the small intestine wall. This flattening is caused by an immune reaction to gluten. There are long-term complications associated with continuing to have exposure to gluten so it is important to have Coeliac Disease confirmed or excluded before starting the gluten free diet. The complications include an increased risk of certain types of bowel cancer and risks to unborn babies.
Dermatitis herpetiformis is an itchy blister-like skin condition associated with Coeliac Disease.
Gluten sensitivity, intolerance or allergy is an immune reaction to gluten that has not caused a flattening of the villi as in Coeliac Disease. It may be associated with raised gliadin antibodies and in a genetically susceptible person may develop into Coeliac Disease if left untreated. An immune reaction to gluten may result in dermatological (skin), respiratory (breathing), neurological (nerves and brain) or gastroenterological (oesophagus, stomach and intestines) damage. The long-term complications of continuing to eat gluten are not well known but the small bowel damage (that may lead to cancers) seen in Coeliac Disease is absent.