10 Signs You Are Gluten Intolerant
Gluten intolerance – also known as gluten sensitivity (when moderate) or Celiac’s Disease (when extreme) – can have symptoms that range from nothing at all to life-threatening conditions, like severe anemia. However, these signs can vary wildly from person to person, which is why diagnosing gluten sensitivity – or, “gluten testing” – can be so difficult for medical professionals.
So if you suspect you might be sensitive to the gluten – a protein found in grain products and many processed foods – then consult this list of potential signs of gluten intolerance, and consult with a medical professional as needed.
10 Surprising Signs You May Be Gluten Intolerant
According to Dr. Mark Hyman, gluten sensitivity is “an autoimmune disease that creates inflammation throughout the body, with wide-ranging effects across all organ systems including your brain, heart, joints, digestive tract, and more” (3). Some symptoms of gluten sensitivity may include:
1. Gastrointestinal effects. You may suffer from abdominal discomforts, like bloating, diarrhea, and constipation (1), whenever you consume products with gluten in them.
2. Malabsorption of vitamins. You may feel faint or weak, as you fail to digest gluten and the vitamins in them (2).
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3. Skin rash and acne breakouts (13). Your skin may experience acne breakouts, feel itchy, develop bumps, and even mimic symptoms of eczema (1).
4. Migraines (2). The causes of migraines are various and mysterious, but some studies have made a connection between an increased rate of headaches and migraines in Celiac patients, compared to the general population (14). In a 2001 study, Dr. Marios Hadjivassiliou from the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in the UK documented patients actually lessening their migraine symptom by following gluten-free diets (15).
5. Joint pain. Joint pain can be signs of several different autoimmune diseases. If you’re not hitting the heavyweights, logging serious miles running, or suffering from arthritis, the inflammatory response from a gluten intolerance may be one reason your system is triggering a reaction in your joints (2).
6. Lactose intolerance (1).
7. Chronic fatigue. If you aren’t burning the midnight oil every night and you are still hitting the snooze button repeatedly every morning, your diet may actually be to blame. A gluten-filled diet cannot only induce fatigue in someone with gluten intolerance, it can actually disrupt your sleep patterns and create a feeling of general malaise, according to studies (16).
8. Fibromyalgia (1).
9. Neurological symptoms. You may feel dizzy, like you are off-balance (2). You may also experience mood disorders, anxiety, depression, or ADD (2). A 2010 study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) cited “significant concerns about increased rates of psychological symptoms and mental disorders in celiacs” patients (17).
10. Hormone imbalances. You may experience menses when you’re not expecting it, or not experience it at all when you should be (2). You might also experience infertility (2).
Gluten Intolerance: One Cause, Many Diseases
Gluten intolerance has also been associated with up to 55 other diseases (3). If you have gluten intolerance, you will need to correct these diseases, not by treating their symptoms, but by targetting your gluten sensitivity.
Indeed, according to Dr. Hyman (3), over 55 diseases may be linked to eating gluten (4). These diseases may include osteoporosis, irritable bowel disease, inflammatory bowel disease, anemia, cancer, canker sores, (5) and rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and almost all other autoimmune diseases (6). Gluten has also been linked to neurological diseases (6, such as anxiety, depression, (7) schizophrenia, (8) dementia, (9) epilepsy, neuropathy (nerve damage)(10), and autism (3, 11).
Of course, this is not to say that gluten may be the cause of all these diseases (3). However, if you have chronic illnesses that do not seem to be getting better no matter what, or if they seem to be improving when you are on a gluten-free diet, it may be worthwhile to get tested for gluten intolerance, just in case it turns out to be the root cause of your chronic diseases.
So if you suspect you could be suffering from gluten intolerance, first try a gluten elimination diet (18) to see if you feel better – and pay close attention to potential signs that you may be gluten intolerant. If you seem to fit the bill, make sure to visit your doctor to get tested for gluten sensitivity.
- Plyer, K. (2013). Surprising Signs of Gluten Intolerance. [online] US News. Available at: https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/09/17/surprising-signs-of-gluten-intolerance [Accessed 6 Nov. 2017].
- Myers, A. (2013). 10 Signs You’re Gluten Intolerant. [online] mindbodygreen. Available at: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-7482/10-signs-youre-gluten-intolerant.html [Accessed 6 Nov. 2017].
- Hyman, M. (2017). Gluten: What You Don’t Know Might Kill You. [online] HuffPost. Available at: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/%3Cbr%3Edr-mark-hyman/gluten-what-you-dont-know_b_379089.html [Accessed 6 Nov. 2017].
- Farrell, R. and Kelly, C. (2002). Celiac Sprue. New England Journal of Medicine, 346(3), pp.180-188.
- Sedghizadeh, P., Shuler, C., Allen, C., Beck, F. and Kalmar, J. (2002). Celiac disease and recurrent aphthous stomatitis: a report and review of the literature. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod., 94(4), pp.474-8.
- Margutti, P., Delunardo, F. and Ortona, E. (2006). Autoantibodies associated with psychiatric disorders. Curr Neurovasc Res, 3(2), pp.149-57.
- Ludvigsson, J., Reutfors, J., Ösby, U., Ekbom, A. and Montgomery, S. (2007). Coeliac disease and risk of mood disorders — A general population-based cohort study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 99(1-3), pp.117-126.
- Ludvigsson, J., Osby, U., Ekbom, A. and Montgomery, S. (2007). Coeliac disease and risk of schizophrenia and other psychosis: A general population cohort study. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, 42(2), pp.179-185.
- Hu, W., Murray, J., Greenaway, M., Parisi, J. and Josephs, K. (2006). Cognitive Impairment and Celiac Disease. Archives of Neurology, 63(10), p.1440.
- Bushara, K. (2005). Neurologic presentation of celiac disease. Gastroenterology., 128(4), pp.S92-7.
- Millward, C., Ferriter, M., Calver, S. and Connell-Jones, G. (2008). Gluten- and casein-free diets for autistic spectrum disorder. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
- Green, P. and Jabri, B. (2003). Coeliac disease. The Lancet, 362(9381), pp.383-391.
- Henninger, M. (2013). Gluten: The Greatest Enemy of Clear Skin. [online] HuffPost. Available at: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/maura-henninger-nd/gluten-and-acne_b_2601648.html [Accessed 6 Nov. 2017].
- Dimitrova, A., Ungaro, R., Lebwohl, B., Lewis, S., Tennyson, C., Green, M., Babyatsky, M. and Green, P. (2012). Prevalence of Migraine in Patients With Celiac Disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 53(2), pp.344-355.
- Hadjivassiliou, M., Grünewald, R., Lawden, M., Davies–Jones, G., Powell, T. and Smith, C. (2017). Headache and CNS white matter abnormalities associated with gluten sensitivity. Neurology, 56(3), pp.385-8.
- SINISCALCHI, M., IOVINO, P., TORTORA, R., FORESTIERO, S., SOMMA, A., CAPUANO, L., FRANZESE, M., SABBATINI, F. and CIACCI, C. (2005). Fatigue in adult coeliac disease. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 22(5), pp.489-494.
- Häuser, W., Janke, K.-H., Klump, B., Gregor, M., & Hinz, A. (2010). Anxiety and depression in adult patients with celiac disease on a gluten-free diet. World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG, 16(22), 2780–2787. http://doi.org/10.3748/wjg.v16.i22.2780
- Segersten, A. (n.d.). Elimination Diet. [online] Nourishing Meals®. Available at: http://www.nourishingmeals.com/p/elimination-diet.html [Accessed 6 Nov. 2017].
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