As I’ve mentioned before, my mother has a whole slew of allergies: citrus, eggs, nuts, peanuts, and soy are the big ones. When I was growing up, it wasn’t unusual for mom to have a lot of things left off an order or ask questions about what ingredients were. She has an emergency allergy kit in her purse, that is well stocked with Benadryl and hand creams and EpiPens. If she even got the tell tale itching in her mouth, out came the pills. Considering we never had to take her to the ED for any of these allergies, I think she did a pretty amazing job managing them.
So early on, in our discussions of my celiac, she asked me if I could take a Benadryl to combat the gluten in my system. Considering so many people don’t understand celiac but if you say “gluten allergy” they can comprehend what you’re saying, it makes a certain amount of sense. Except celiac isn’t an allergy. It is simply a reaction your body has to food. Except, when you have an allergy, that is also a reaction your body has to food. What exactly is the difference.
Lets start by looking at the definition of both words. According to Dictionary.com an allergy is:
What Is an Allergy?
It’s what happens when your immune system reacts to something that’s usually harmless. Those triggers, which doctors call “allergens,” can include pollen, mold, and animal dander, certain foods, or things that irritate your skin.
Allergies are very common. At least 1 in 5 Americans has one.
What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is a problem some people have with foods that contain gluten. Gluten is a type of protein. It’s found in the grains wheat, barley, rye, and triticale (a wheat-rye cross).
When you have this disease and you eat food with gluten in it, the gluten triggers an immune response that is not normal. This damages the inside of your small intestine so that it can’t do a good job of absorbing nutrients from your food.
It’s important to get treatment, because celiac disease can:
So again, we see one similarity here, each of these trigger an immune response, but that’s about where the similarities end again. So if we only look at the most surface similarities both allergies and celiac are immune reactions that have something to do with food and poop. Sounds about right.
So here’s the differnce that neither of these have touched upon. Allergies are immediate and Celiac is a delayed hypersensitivity reaction. If you look at this resource at the Food and Allergy Resource Program the difference between an allergy and celiac is that an allergic reaction activated antibodies in response to the allergen while celiac activates phagocytes, antigen-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocytes, and the release of various cytokines in response to an antigen. That’s science speak for allergies and celiac trigger different immune reactions
So, why wouldn’t Benadryl work for Celiacs, well when the immune reaction happens for allergies it releases histamine into the suffer’s system. Benadryl is an antihistamine, which blocks the histamine reaction. When Celiac’s have a reaction, is causes entropy in the intestines and no histamine. So while my mom eating some eggs or nuts can chew a Benadryl and start to feel better, because of my delayed hyper sensitive reaction and the cell-mediated immunological reaction that same Benadryl won’t help. It might even hurt if there’s a wheat in those pills.
Science, we has it in spades on this blog, and a lot of really large words. If you want to read more of the science, go here and keep google open to help you through some of the pretty amazing scientific terms in the article. I was googling the wikipedia entries I found to explain terms.
So, my move begins in earnest this week. I might be able to post next week, but we need to be out of our house on 11/1 and still don’t know where we’re moving on that date. Here’s hoping that everything comes up roses, and I have a great new house next week. Of course, next Monday is Halloween! My favorite holiday of the year! And my wedding anniversary!