Gluten Intolerance Signs and Symptoms

What is Gluten

Extensive clinical research and many studies over the past decade have focused on the numerous health-related consequences of increased gluten intake.

In the same period, scientists and other medical professionals have shed light on various symptoms of gluten intolerance, such as:

  • Celiac disease
  • Weight loss
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Anemia

The link between irritable bowel syndrome and gluten is yet to proven, as not much evidence has been gathered.

Three decades ago sensitivity to gluten was considered a health disorder that was distinguished by different intestinal reactions and symptoms that were triggered by ingesting food that contained gluten.

The list of foods that contain gluten is indeed long, and many of these made up the diet of some of the earliest people to roam the world.

Gluten, derived from the word “glue,” which is a Latin word meaning a sticky thing or substance, is a protein-based nutrient that is found in a variety of grains, for example, oats, rye, wheat, and barley.

Pizza, pasta, French fries, and soups contain gluten, and it is also used for making medications and different health supplements.

Gluten is also categorized as a solitary protein because of its unique elastic form.

This is essentially why for centuries people have used grains that contain the highest amount of gluten to make pastries, pasta, and bread.

Numerous clinical reports have been written and published about the adverse effects of consuming gluten-rich foods for people suffering from gluten intolerance and sensitivity.

Many studies maintain that the painful and particularly harmful health complications of gluten are propelled by the chemical structure of the protein.

In turn, a chemical reaction occurs in the immune system of someone suffering from gluten intolerance because that person’s immune system does not recognize the substance as a protein but rather as a toxic component, which then causes an adverse reaction that compromises the immune system.

Because of the recent gluten-related global health phenomenon, a significant spike in the demand for gluten-free foods has occurred.

A major reason why people with gluten sensitivity are advised to switch to a gluten-free diet is that the chemical reaction caused by the protein not only affects the stomach but also causes unexplained alteration in different parts of the body.

These changes can result in more serious health repercussions and complications, triggering abnormal immune system reactions to different types of foods and allergens.

Gluten sensitivity is also referred to as non-celiac gluten intolerance, which is a negative reaction of the immune system to gluten-rich foods.

Gluten intolerance in nature is said to be similar to celiac disease,  but many medical professionals believe there is no such thing as gluten sensitivity.


Celiac Disease — What is it?

Celiac disorder is a medical condition caused by an anomalous or irregular reaction to gluten.

Celiac disease is categorized as an autoimmune disorder that triggers your body to turn on the good intestinal tissues and wipe them out.

Many people, however, are gluten intolerant or sensitive to it but don’t suffer from celiac disease.


20 Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance

The symptoms of gluten sensitivity can differ considerably from individual to individual, which is precisely why it is so difficult to make a conclusive diagnosis of this complicated health issue.

According to a report published by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, people suffering from serious and common forms of gluten sensitivity or intolerance have to wait six to ten years to get the right diagnosis.

In light of this problem, shown below are some common symptoms of gluten sensitivity.


Chronic Respiratory Complications

Excessive coughing, rhinitis, breathing issues, otitis, and sore throat can be caused by gluten intolerance.

The connection between gluten intolerance and respiratory complications was highlighted in a 2011 report published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, which revealed that people with celiac disease have double the risk of asthma compared with those who do not have the disorder.

In 2008, a medical report published by Revue De Pneumologie Clinique indicated that individuals who were affected by celiac disease and suffered associated respiratory complications were relieved of their symptoms by switching to gluten-free food.


Mouth Ulcers or Canker Sores

Mouth ulcers, known as canker sores, develop inside the mouth in the form of painful ulcers.

These ulcers can also form in your gastrointestinal tract.

According to a study involving 247 patients with RAS,  of those who were thoroughly evaluated and screened with (EMA), which is short for IgA anti-endomysial antibody, IgA anti-tissue transglutaminase, and IgA, seven of them were identified as being gluten intolerant.

Of these seven, four were prescribed a gluten-free diet for six months, which significantly decreased their symptoms, promoting overall good health.



The link between grain and asthma was first discovered in the eighteenth century when it was reported that bakers, when exposed to flour dust, began experiencing breathing difficulties and developed respiratory complications that were believed to indicate asthma.


Depression and Anxiety

Depression has many symptoms, including lack of focus, feeling hopeless, being exhausted all the time, extreme sadness, and heightened irritability.

Anxiety is also closely associated with depression, where an individual finds it hard to relax and focus.

This condition can lead to different symptoms, including uncontrollable anger and frustration, chest pains, and anxiety or panic attacks.

Symptoms of anxiety and depression can be caused by your stomach’s inability to break down and absorb nutrients, minerals, and vitamins, which happens when your gastrointestinal tract is damaged as a result of ingesting foods that contain gluten.



Consuming foods and products that contain gluten can be bad for the immune system, leading to a host of medical complications and adverse immune system reactions.

The immune system functions to protect the body from toxic and harmful substances by reacting to the threat of antigens.

Proteins created by your immune system are known as antigens.

These are located in the lining of your cells and on the surfaces of viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

Antigens will only adversely react and start to attack healthier cells when they fail to identify and eliminate the substance that contains antigens.


Losing Weight

According to clinical research posted by NCBI Online a year ago, people with gluten sensitivity show signs of weight loss.



While some people with gluten intolerance lose weight, others gain weight, which leads to obesity.

According to several articles posted in the Journal of the American Board of Family Practice, excessive weight gain as a result of gluten intolerance can be a primary cause of vitamin and nutrient deficiency, such as calcium and vitamin D.


Dental Complications

According to a research study and article posted in 2012, gluten was determined to cause the body to adversely react to one of the primary sources of protein that promotes teeth enamel production because the protein sticks quite easily to your teeth, becoming a haven for microorganisms to thrive.



Through clinical trials and research data published by Jennifer Fugo two years ago, gluten sensitivity and celiac disorder were found to cause mental morbidity, leading to drastic mood swings, heightened irritability, and anger.


Lack of Focus or Brain Fog

The inability to concentrate or think clearly is quite harrowing and can cause you to feel frightfully disconnected from the world around you.

Mental fatigue can be a long-term complication, which may lead to a number of other brain-related problems.

According to several clinical studies and articles published by the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, being intolerant to gluten can lead to different neurological complications, starting with a lack of focus and being unable to think clearly.



In some extremely rare and serious cases, individuals with gluten intolerance can suffer fatal and reoccurring anaphylaxis, which is primarily caused by sensitivity to gliadin.

According to research reports published by the Department of Dermatology at the University of Helsinki, it was concluded that gliadin, a soluble protein substance found in allergens and wheat, can cause anaphylaxis in people with gluten sensitivity.


Muscle/Joint Pain and Fatigue

Gluten causes inflammation in muscles and joints, which can be quite painful and discomforting.

As per a report posted by WebMD, three million people in the U.S. suffer from joint and muscle pain.

They also have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant.


Chronic Fatigue

Sudden fatigue and exhaustion that don’t go away for at least six months or exhaustion that does not dissipate even after you have rested for a long time can be caused by gluten.

According to research published by NCBI, symptoms of weight loss, mental exhaustion, behavioral changes, and muscle cramps often occur in patients with gluten intolerance.


Imbalance in Your Hormone Levels

According to Dr. Daniel Kalish, D.C., intolerance to gluten is a common trigger for hormonal imbalance, especially in women.

This happens due to gliadin, which is a protein found in different grains that contain gluten.



According to a study by the Mayo Clinic, people with gluten sensitivity or intolerance stand a high risk of being affected by different types of cancer, for example, small bowel cancer or intestinal lymphoma, but the chances of developing these diseases increase if you do not maintain a gluten-free diet.


Skin Disorders

People with gluten sensitivity can also develop various forms of skin allergies and complications if they ingest gluten-rich food.

For example, you can contract skin problems, such as hives, acne, eczema, allergies, and atopic dermatitis.


Digestive Complications

Individuals who cannot tolerate gluten can also develop irritable bowel syndrome, which is one of the most frequently occurring disorders.

Other bowel issues include bloating, gas, a sudden increase or decrease in food consumption, vomiting, intestinal pain, and nausea.



According to a clinical study of 502 patients that was undertaken by Columbia University Medical Center’s Neurological Institute in New York, 188 were found to have celiac disease.

Moreover, 111 were suffering from inflammatory bowel syndrome, 178 were reported healthy, and 25 had a gluten intolerance.

It was estimated that approximately 56 percent of these patients who experienced frequent or chronic headaches were gluten intolerant.

Another study suggested that gluten sensitivity can cause migraines, which may also be one of the many neurological symptoms of gluten intolerance and celiac disease.



Gluten intolerance can also cause different infertility complications, miscarriages, and abnormal menstruation, which occurs primarily because gluten can upset your hormonal balance.


Gluten Hampers Infant Growth

Children or infants suffering from gluten intolerance can experience a considerable lag in their growth because gluten can cause nutrient malabsorption.


Diagnosis of Gluten Sensitivity

Correct diagnosis of gluten intolerance is vitally important, and various steps must be taken to determine whether or not you are gluten sensitive.

It also essential to understand that while the celiac disease can be diagnosed by a lab test, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t gluten intolerant if you aren’t suffering from it.

Sensitivity to gluten is shown by your immune system having an abnormal or reverse reaction to gluten and manufactures antibodies to combat a protein known as gliadin.

These antibodies can be identified through a blood test and stool evaluation.

The reaction of your immune system to food occurs primarily in the intestinal tract, and bowel movement is the only way to eliminate food from the intestinal tract, which is why a stool test is far more accurate when testing for celiac disease.

Before stool tests became common, gluten intolerance and celiac disease were chiefly identified through blood tests.

These are efficient for identifying antibodies your immune system generates to fight gliadin, which is a toxic substance found in wheat and different types of grain and can damage the mucosa.

This is why your immune system creates anti-endomysial cells against tissue transglutaminase.

Blood tests have become more technologically advanced, and procedures have become far more accurate and innovative.

According to scientific reports, during the initial stages of your body’s reaction to gluten, it is quite possible that two types of antibodies may not be revealed by a blood test—antigliadin and antiendomysial transglutaminase.

If blood work of a potential gluten intolerant individual does not reveal the aforementioned antibodies, it is quite possible that this person’s intestinal tract may contain traces of gliadin, which is why doctors first require a stool test to confirm any diagnosis.


Stool Examination

Not all people can be diagnosed with immunological gluten sensitivity through a blood test.

In fact, a blood test may lead to a misdiagnosis, resulting in exaggerating the condition as well as giving birth to numerous other health complications.

It could also lead to a doctor completely ruling out gluten intolerance, which can be dangerous.

Instead, many people are more commonly diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome rather than gluten sensitivity because in the initial stages of the condition your immune system responds to gluten by creating antigliadin antibodies in the gastrointestinal tract.

According to a scientific research report published by Enterolab, an individual’s stool can be effectively utilized to determine traces of antigliadin antibodies and for gliadin whether or not the patient in question has begun to show signs and symptoms of gluten intolerance.

Your stomach’s immune cells protect and line your body’s largest internal tissue mass.

This tissue acts as a shield against bacteria, viruses, and foreign invaders, which are also known as antigens.

The primary defense your immune system has against these antigens is in the form of secretory IgA excretion inside the intestinal lumen, which is a hollow region inside your stomach where the antibodies your immune system generates combine and eliminate the foreign attackers.

Because these antibodies can never be reabsorbed by your body, they are eliminated through bowel movement, which is the logic behind stool examination.


Genetic Evaluations & Testing

A genetic examination is the most common procedure for identifying gluten intolerance and celiac disease.

If celiac disease or gluten sensitivity runs in the family or even if one of your family members has ever been diagnosed with the disease, it is absolutely imperative that you be examined as well.

Genetic testing entails the following.


Intestinal Biopsy

Once your blood report indicates that you have celiac disease, the next step is to perform a biopsy in your intestinal tract to confirm the blood work, but gluten intolerance can only be suspected if an allergy to wheat and celiac disease is rejected.


Gluten-Free Food/ Diet

Most people determine whether or not they are gluten intolerant by going on a six to eight week diet of gluten-free food.

It is also necessary, though, to consult a medical professional who can help you avoid harming yourself both mentally and physically.


Treatments Available for People with Gluten Intolerance

It is important to understand that the best and only treatment available for gluten-sensitive individuals is to completely avoid eating foods that contain gluten.

Gluten intolerance is an autoimmune disorder and has no cure.

It can only be managed by avoiding foods or products that have gluten in them.

If you are diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, you need to plan a gluten-free diet that your doctor lines out for you.

For example, you must stay away from semolina, farina, flour, and Graham, which are all grains that contain gluten.

It could be hard to follow a gluten-free diet, but you need to think about the accompanying benefits.

For example, thinking about all the foods that you can or cannot eat will minimize feeling deprived.

Many foods made today are gluten-free, such as pasta. You can also eat gluten-free pizzas and bread.

Shown below are types of foods that are naturally free of gluten:

  • Fresh fish (e.g., salmon, freshwater fish)
  • All types of fruits and vegetables (preferably fresh)
  • Eggs
  • Fresh poultry


When You Should Schedule an Appointment with your Doctor

It is important that you not try to diagnose yourself.

If you feel you may be gluten sensitive, e.g., experiencing signs and symptoms, immediately go to a doctor.

You can also schedule an examination or medical test for celiac disease, but according to Director Gina Sam, M.D., at Mount Sinai Gastrointestinal Motility Center, you should see a doctor for gluten intolerance for the following fundamental reasons:

  • If you are experiencing chronic stomach problems, such as diarrhea, feel that you are losing weight, or experiencing bloating, abdominal pain, and swelling. These are all prominent signs of gluten sensitivity.
  • If you have celiac disease and it remains untreated, it can cause numerous nutrient and vitamin deficiencies and also damage the small intestine.
  • If someone in your family has ever been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, go to a doctor immediately.



According to Dr. Oz, a cardiovascular specialist who also has his own TV show, gluten intolerance is a major problem despite many medical professionals believing otherwise.

It is important to realize that gluten has been connected with many neurological and psychiatric disorders, which include such conditions as depression, neuropathy, anxiety, autism, and dementia.

Being an autoimmune disorder, gluten intolerance can cause inflammation in your brain, which can also affect other vital parts of your body, including your lungs, joints, and heart.

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