Square Root was started after founder Ellie O’Brien was diagnosed with Celiac Disease - an autoimmune disease where ingesting gluten leads to damage of the small intestine. Celiac disease can lead to some very painful and unpleasant side effects, some of which can be easily misconstrued as side effects of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. So what is the difference between the two?
The main difference lies in the fact that Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, which means it is classified as a disorder that causes the immune system to attack healthy cells within the body. In other words, a person’s immune system is designed to fight off germs, bacteria and viruses, but with an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes a part of a person’s own body as a foreign or as something that needs to be fought off, therefore mistakenly destroying perfectly normal cells. Celiac disease in particular targets the small intestine, so it primarily causes stomach problems, but because of the nature of autoimmune diseases, it can cause more serious complications in other areas of the body if someone with celiac continues to ingest gluten. Fertility complications, the stunting of growth, and even seizures have been seen in individuals with celiac.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome on the other hand, is not an autoimmune disease. It is a disorder that causes gastrointestinal symptoms and can be triggered by certain foods. Because both IBS and Celiac affect the intestines, their presenting symptoms can be difficult to distinguish.
The best course of action if experiencing uncomfortable symptoms is to see a doctor or a specialist who can help determine the cause. Another thing to do to help distinguish trigger foods or symptoms is to track the food you are eating and how you feel afterwards. This can lead you to noticing a possible sensitivity to a certain food group.
For more information on Celiac Disease visit https://celiac.org/ the Celiac Disease Foundation also has many opportunities to get involved in the celiac community through advocacy and donations, as well as helpful tips for living with Celiac.
For more information about symptoms and potential causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, visit the Mayo Clinic website at HERE.