Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and wheat allergy are three completely different conditions
Those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance both can experience pain in their intestinal area. Meanwhile, people who live with wheat allergy can experience headaches and fatigue. Many mistake the conditions from one another making it difficult for them to know if they have a food allergy or are intolerant.
"It's confusing that people can have all these different reactions to the same food," says Dr. Ciaran Kelly, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and medical director of the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass. "It's important to make the distinction between food allergies and intolerance, because there is a lot of confusion and there are differences in treatments."
Food intolerance can mean that your body lacks an enzyme needed to break down a component in a certain food (like lactose in milk). Your body could also be sensitive to a chemical or additive in the food.
Having a food allergy is different—Your body recognizes an unharmful food, such as peanuts or milk, as potentially harmful. The body goes into a defensive mode, producing high levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE).
The best ways you can find out whether you have a food intolerance or food allergy is by keeping a food diary and visiting your doctor. By finding out your symptoms after eating particular foods, your doctor can put you on the right path to avoid future illness.