Gluten Intolerance Symptoms, Signs and Allergy Associated with it

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF GLUTEN INTOLERANCE

Gluten Intolerance Symptoms, Signs and Allergy Associated with it

Who doesn’t like cakes, pastries, and cookies? And if you’re not one with a sweet tooth, surely you love pasta and noodles? If you do, you should know that you are consuming gluten. If you are reading this article, I am sure that you are concerned gluten intolerance either you or a loved one is facing as of now. Here is all that you need to know if you are gluten intolerant?

Today Gluten is found everywhere, it has become part and parcel of so many food products that it is virtually impossible to find anything that is gluten free. Even if you are not a foodie, something as simple as chapatis and rotis, which is a staple in many households, contains gluten.

Despite the fact that gluten intolerance is a fairly common medical condition, not many people are aware of this disorder and its implications.

In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about gluten intolerance, its signs and symptoms, as well as the kind of treatments that are available.

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SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF GLUTEN INTOLERANCE
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF GLUTEN INTOLERANCE

What is Gluten intolerance

Gluten basically refers to a group of proteins that are found in certain foods, mainly, wheat, barley, and rye. What we identify as gluten intolerance or gluten allergy is essentially a medical condition wherein your body develops and adverse reaction to gluten.

When you are gluten intolerant, your immune system begins to overreact after the consumption of gluten. When the immune system reacts to this, it targets the digestive system, particularly the small intestine.

One of the most severe forms of gluten intolerance and the most popularly known, us celiac disease. It has been estimated that close to one in every hundred people globally are affected by celiac disease.

Another form of gluten intolerance is non-celiac gluten sensitivity. This is much more mild in nature, as opposed to celiac disease. (source)

Gluten intolerance meaning

A person is considered to be gluten intolerant if it can cause digestive problems such as gassiness, abdominal pain or diarrhoea. However, gluten intolerance is not the same as Gluten Allergy or Celiac disease.

Gluten intolerances involve the digestive system. Whereas in food allergy our immune system overreacts to a Gluten causing symptoms that are potentially serious or even life-threatening. Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disorder that can damage the small intestine.

While avoiding gluten is a treatment strategy for all three, these are not the same conditions. (source)

Celiac disease Vs gluten intolerance

The common factor between celiac disease and gluten intolerance is gluten. We know that gluten is the trigger for both these conditions, wherein the autoimmune system goes into overdrive and attacks the digestive system when gluten comes into the picture.

But is there a difference between the two disorders, and if yes, what is the difference?

In celiac disease, gluten triggers an adverse autoimmune response to gluten. Eventually, the immune system targets the digestive system, particularly the small intestine. The small intestine consists of fingerlike small projections known as villi. (source)

The job of the villi is to absorb nutrients from the food you consume. In the case of those affected by celiac disease, the villi get damaged, and the body over time becomes unable to absorb the necessary nutrients.

This disorder is also known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Just like celiac disease, it is the result of adverse reaction to gluten. However, gluten intolerance is not as severe as celiac disease.

In the case of celiac disease, the entire body has an autoimmune response to gluten, and the immune system attacks your own body’s digestive system and tissue. Whereas, when a person is suffering from gluten intolerance, he or she will experience symptoms that are usually short term. These include bloating, abdominal pain, or diarrhoea. (source)

gluten intolerance cure

Gluten Intolerance Symptoms

1 Bloating

Bloating or gas accumulation in your stomach is one of the most common symptoms of gluten intolerance. In fact, according to one study conducted on a group of people suffering from non-celiac gluten sensitivity, it was estimated that close to 87% of them also suffered from bloating. (source)

glutenstomachpain_low

2 Pain in the abdomen

Another common symptom of gluten intolerance is mild to severe pain in the abdomen. In a study that was conducted on a group of candidates suffering from gluten intolerance, close to 84% of them complained of pain in the abdomen as well. (source)

3 Fatigue and tiredness

It is normal to feel tired. However, if you have been suffering from constant tiredness and fatigue, even after getting enough rest, then it might be a sign of some underlying cause. One of these underlying causes is gluten intolerance.

Research suggests that fatigue and tiredness is a common symptom that accompanies gluten Intolerance and in most cases, this feeling of tiredness is at its peak after a meal that contains gluten.

Few studies suggest that over 60 per cent to 80 per cent of individuals who suffer from gluten intolerance also complained of fatigue and tiredness. (source)

4 Depression

Gluten intolerance can pave the way to depression. Research suggests that individuals who suffer from one or more digestive issues are more prone to mental disorders like depression and anxiety, as opposed to those who don’t suffer from a digestive condition.

This has been observed in people who are diagnosed with celiac disease. Although gluten intolerance is a condition that majorly affects the digestive system, it can affect your mental state of mind as well.

For one, gluten intolerance can cause an abnormality in the serotonin levels in your body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter. Its function is to enable the communication of cells in your body. Serotonin is also one of the happy or feel-good hormones. When there is an abnormality in the level of serotonin in your body, it may cause depression. (source)

Another way in which gluten intolerance can cause depression is due to the formation of peptides. These peptides are known as gluten exorphins. They are formed when the gluten proteins you have consumed are being digested.

Gluten exorphins can adversely affect the central nervous system at times. This, in turn, can be a causal factor of depression. (source)

Often, gluten intolerance can cause a sudden rise in the number of gut bacteria. When there is an abnormal rise in gut bacteria, it can affect the central nervous system. This can lead to depression. (source)

5 Iron-deficiency anaemia

Certain gluten intolerant disorders, particular celiac disease, inhibits the process of absorption of nutrients from the food you consume. As a result, you will experience a deficiency of certain essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

This can interfere with the absorption of iron in the body. This can lead to various other symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath, pale skin, headaches, and weakness.  (source)

6 Autoimmune disorders

Gluten intolerance by itself if an autoimmune condition. It can weaken your body, and eventually pave the way to other autoimmune disorders as well. For example, it can potentially lead to autoimmune thyroid disease. Other diseases that gluten intolerance can cause are type 1 diabetes, kidney ailments, and inflammatory bowel syndrome. (source)  (source)

7 Numbness in arms and legs

You might experience a certain numbness or tingling sensation in your arms and legs if you are suffering from gluten intolerance. The exact reason for this symptom is not known, but some studies suggest that it could be due to the presence of certain antibodies that are associated with gluten intolerance and celiac disease. (source)

8 Brain fog

If you are unable to think clearly for no explained reason or suffering from brain fog particularly after the consumption of gluten, then chances are that you are suffering from gluten intolerance. Close to 40% of people who suffer from gluten intolerance also complain of brain fog, forgetfulness, or the inability to think clearly. The reason behind this is unknown. Certain studies claim that a brain fog due to gluten intolerance is caused due to the presence of antibodies in the body. (source)

9 Pain in the joints and muscles

It can cause inflammation in the joints and muscles. Additionally, those who suffer from celiac disease are genetically predisposed to be more sensitive than their healthier counterparts. (source)

10 Anxiety

Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, unease, nervousness, or agitation, with or without a relevant reason. Most often, anxiety is accompanied by depression. One study that was conducted on a group of people who suffered from gluten sensitivity showed that 40% of them suffered from anxiety as well. This supports the fact that people who have gluten anxiety are prone to suffer from anxiety as well, more so than those who don’t have a gluten intolerance. (source)

11 Sudden weight loss

Losing weight with no explanation can be a symptom of an underlying cause. It could also be an indication that you are suffering from gluten intolerance. Close to two-thirds of the patients who suffered from celiac disease also complained of weight loss. (source)

12 Skin issues or dermatitis herpetiformis

Dermatitis herpetiformis is the manifestation of celiac disease on your skin. Other skin disorders that you may suffer from if you are gluten intolerant are psoriasis, chronic urticaria, and alopecia areata. (source)

gluten allergy skin rash gluten intolerance and skin rash

13 Headaches and migraine

It is common to experience headaches and a lot of people suffer from migraine as well. However, if you are gluten intolerant, chances are that you may be more prone to headaches and migraine than people who are not gluten intolerant. (source)

14 Bowel and gastrointestinal disorders

People who suffer from gluten intolerance often complain of constipation, diarrhoea, or smelly faeces. The reason behind this is gluten intolerant disorders like celiac disease, destroy the lining of the stomach and the small intestine. The small intestine has something known as the villi. These are small, fingerlike projections that help the body absorb nutrients from the food you eat. When a person who is gluten intolerant consumes gluten, the body has an adverse reaction.

The immune system begins to attack the digestive system. In this process, the villi are destroyed, thereby making it hard for the body to absorb nutrients from the food. Poor nutrient absorption along with poor digestion can cause diarrhoea and/or constipation.

It has been estimated that more than half of those suffering from gluten intolerance complain of diarrhoea while 25 per cent suffers from constipation. (source) (source) (source)

Gluten intolerance test

The signs and symptoms of gluten intolerance are similar to various other diseases, such as lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome, for instance.

If your doctor suspects gluten intolerance, you will most likely be subjected to a celiac disease test, to diagnose celiac disease. Once this has been conducted and the possibility of celiac disease is ruled out, non-celiac gluten sensitivity tests will be conducted.

Gluten allergy test kit

If you want to check for gluten intolerance at home, then you can avail gluten testing kits. In most cases, these kits use your blood or stool sample to identify if you are gluten intolerant. However, it is worth noting that doctors do not recommend these kits.

This is because the results are not always accurate, and chances are that you may be tested false positive. Also, the problem with these kits is that it may show your case to be positive, even if you are suffering from other disorders like lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome. (source)

Lab test for gluten intolerance

Lab tests, under the guidance of a medical practitioner, is the most reliable way to check for gluten intolerance. As mentioned above, you will most likely have to undergo a celiac disease test. Other tests include –

  1. Blood tests
  2. Genetic testing
  3. Total serum IgA test
  4. Tissue Transglutaminase IgA antibody test
  5. IgA Endomysial antibody (EMA) test
  6. Deamidated gliadin peptide (DGP) test (source)
gluten allergy foods

Gluten intolerance: foods to avoid

The following must be avoided if you are suffering from gluten intolerance-

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Farro
  • Durum
  • Emmer
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Wheat berries
  • Triticale
  • Farina
  • Einkorn wheat
  • Malt vinegar
  • Brewers yeast
  • Malt extract
  • Malted barley flour
  • Malt syrup
  • Alcoholic beverages like beer and rye beer
  • Wheat starch (source)

Foods to avoid with a gluten allergy

Commonly consumed foods that have gluten in them includes –

  • Bread and other baked goods like pies, brownies, cookies, cakes, and crusts.
  • Noodles (this does not include mung bean or rice noodles)
  • Pasta
  • Cereal
  • Granola bars
  • Crackers
  • Pretzels
  • Waffles, crepes, and biscuits
  • Beer
  • Malt based beverages
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Sauce, especially soy sauce (source)

Gluten Allergy Symptoms in Babies

Children who are gluten allergic will experience digestive symptoms similar to that of adults, like bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, smelly, pale-coloured faeces, and stomach aches. In some cases, they might also experience muscle aches and body pain. (source)

Side effects of Gluten Allergy

Here are some side effects of Gluten Allergy on other health conditions:

1 Cold sores and gluten intolerance

Cold sores are caused due to the herpes simplex virus. They are characterized by small sores that develop on or around the lips. There is no research or study that suggests that there may be a link between cold sores and gluten intolerance. However, if you are suffering from gluten sensitivity, then chances are that the exposure to gluten may trigger cold sores as well. (source)

underactive thyroid and gluten intolerance
Underactive thyroid and gluten intolerance

2 Underactive thyroid and gluten intolerance

Research concludes that thyroid disorders like an underactive thyroid are more common in people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

The thyroid is a gland that is responsible for the regulation of metabolism in your body. Located just below Adam’s apple, the thyroid gland generates necessary hormones that your body needs.

There is no sufficient evidence to prove the link between an underactive thyroid and gluten intolerance. However, one well-accepted fact is that both thyroid disorders and gluten intolerance are autoimmune disorders, due to which, one may trigger the other. (source)

3 Gluten allergy and eczema

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a type of skin disorder. It is characterized by red skin and rashes, and a sense of itchiness.

Eczema is a chronic skin condition and is usually long-lasting. In some cases, hay fever and asthma also concurrently occur with eczema. Till date, unfortunately, there is no cure for this skin condition.

The relationship between non-celiac gluten sensitivity and eczema is not very clear. Scientists conducted a study on 17 candidates who were suffering from non-celiac gluten sensitivity. This group of people were also suffering from certain skin conditions, some of it being dermatitis herpetiformis, eczema, or psoriasis.

For one month, these individuals switched to a gluten-free diet. Their skin conditions also improved significantly by the end of the study.

There is insufficient evidence that suggests any direct link between eczema and celiac disease, however, it is worth noting that both the disorders affect people who have a genetic disposition to the same.

In fact, one study concluded that eczema develops around three times more frequently among those who suffer from celiac disease. (source)

Ayurveda on gluten intolerance

In Ayurveda, digestive disorders like gluten intolerance is thought to stem from a lack of something known as the digestive fire or Agni, in Ayurveda.

Agni is often perceived as the fire within the body that burns the food we eat, to make good used for the nutrition present in it to nourish the body.

Ayurvedic practitioners believe that if the Agni or fire is weak, then the body will suffer from digestive disorders, malnutrition, and gluten intolerance.

Ayurvedic treatment for gluten allergy

To treat gluten intolerance thorough Ayurvedic medicine, the practitioner first removes the source of stress from your diet- that is gluten. After this, he eradicated the toxins from the body through various detoxification processes. Once this is done, the Agni in your body will be increased through various measures.

One of the ways to increase Agni in your body is by increasing the intake of ginger, pepper, and turmeric in your diet.

Additionally, the doctor can administer a tea containing coriander, turmeric, cumin, and fennel. This tea, in addition to increasing the Agni or digestive fire, also helps flush out toxins from your body.

Till date, no research has been conducted on the Ayurvedic approach to treating gluten intolerance.

In conclusion

If your body is incapable of handling the consumption of gluten, you will face a lot of digestive disorders, which can affect the quality of your life and lead to dangerous long-term health risks as well. There are a lot of gluten-related disorders. However the most common is gluten intolerance, celiac gluten sensitivity or coeliac disease, wheat allergy, dermatitis herpetiformis, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

While eating gluten triggers all of the above-mentioned diseases, a gluten-free diet, which consists of naturally gluten-free grains, gluten-free bread, and gluten-free foods, can improve your condition. If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of gluten intolerance, make sure you consult a healthcare professional as soon as possible to avoid further complications.

FAQ’s

  1. What does it mean to be gluten intolerant?

    A person is considered to be gluten intolerant if it can cause digestive problems such as gassiness, abdominal pain or diarrhoea. Gluten intolerances involve the digestive system.

  2. How to know if i am gluten intolerant?

    If you are experiencing any or all of the below symptoms you could be Gluten intolerant. Below are the primary Signs and symptoms of Gluten Intolerance:
    1 Bloating
    2 Pain in the abdomen
    3 Fatigue and tiredness
    4 Depression
    5 Iron-deficiency anaemia
    6 Autoimmune disorders
    7 Numbness in arms and legs
    8 Brain fog
    9 Pain in the joints and muscles
    10 Anxiety
    11 Sudden weight loss
    12 Skin issues or dermatitis herpetiformis
    13 Headaches and migraine
    14 Bowel and gastrointestinal disorders

  3. What is gluten intolerance vs celiac disease?

    In the case of celiac disease, the entire body has an autoimmune response to gluten, and the immune system attacks your own body’s digestive system and tissue. Whereas, when a person is suffering from gluten intolerance, he or she will experience symptoms that are usually short term. These include bloating, abdominal pain, or diarrhoea. (source)

  4. What is gluten intolerance?

    Gluten intolerance or gluten allergy is essentially a medical condition wherein your body develops and adverse reaction to gluten.
    When you are gluten intolerant, your immune system begins to overreact after the consumption of gluten. When the immune system reacts to this, it targets the digestive system, particularly the small intestine.
    One of the most severe forms of gluten intolerance and the most popularly known, us celiac disease. It has been estimated that close to one in every hundred people globally are affected by celiac disease. Another form of gluten intolerance is non-celiac gluten sensitivity. This is much more mild in nature, as opposed to celiac disease. (source)

  5. How to know if you are gluten or lactose intolerant

    Gluten or Lactose are the most common food sensitivity that anybody can have. The symptoms of lactose intolerance and gluten intolerance are quite similar and at a time can occur in an individual simultaneously. Therefore, it is difficult to find what could be bothering you. In both, you will face digestive issues such as bloating, gas, problems with bowel movements, abdominal pain, fatigue, and headaches. The simple non-lab test way is to alter and change your diet to figure out what could be bothering you. However, at times it is wise to go for the blood-test route to find what is bothering you.

  6. What are the signs of gluten intolerance in adults?

    Here are the signs of Gluten intolerance in adults:
    1 Bloating
    2 Pain in the abdomen
    3 Fatigue and tiredness
    4 Depression
    5 Iron-deficiency anaemia
    6 Autoimmune disorders
    7 Numbness in arms and legs
    8 Brain fog
    9 Pain in the joints and muscles
    10 Anxiety
    11 Sudden weight loss
    12 Skin issues or dermatitis herpetiformis
    13 Headaches and migraine
    14 Bowel and gastrointestinal disorders

  7. What causes gluten intolerance in adults?

    The consumption of the following food may cause gluten intolerance among some individuals:
    Wheat
    Barley
    Rye
    Farro
    Durum
    Emmer
    Semolina
    Spelt
    Wheat berries
    Triticale
    Farina
    Einkorn wheat
    Malt vinegar
    Brewers yeast
    Malt extract
    Malted barley flour
    Malt syrup
    Alcoholic beverages like beer and rye beer
    Wheat starch (source)

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