Yes. While celiac disease is gluten intolerance to the fullest extent, gluten intolerance is not necessarily celiac disease. Only a small portion of those who are gluten intolerant have celiac disease. To accurately define and understand your individual relationship with gluten, it’s important to grasp the important distinction between celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and gluten-sensitivity because they are three different, though similar, conditions.
If you have celiac disease, you are gluten intolerant. Celiac disease is full-blown gluten intolerance that usually manifests in physical damage of the small intestine (i.e., flattened villi). You can actually see celiac disease through a biopsy of the small intestine, which is typically considered to be the ultimate diagnosis for the disease. The intestinal wall appears smooth and lacks the bumpy, fingerlike protrusions known as healthy villi.
On the other hand, you can be gluten intolerant, and therefore gluten-sensitive, but not have celiac disease. While nonceliac gluten intolerance produces antibodies to gluten and results in many of the same physical symptoms and complications associated with celiac disease, it does not result in physical damage of the small intestinal villi. You can accurately label yourself as gluten intolerant if you experience uncomfortable symptoms as a result of consuming gluten, and if your symptoms disappear when gluten is removed permanently from your diet. Nonceliac gluten intolerance symptoms are no less painful or important to treat than celiac disease; your villi are simply not flattened (damaged) as a result of your nonceliac gluten intolerance.