12 Common Gluten Intolerance Symptoms

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. If a person is intolerant to gluten, ingesting this protein can cause gastrointestinal problems, joint pain, fatigue, and depression. Gluten intolerance is not the same as Celiac disease. While gluten intolerance is related to the digestive system, Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can damage the small intestine. Sometimes people may also have non-celiac Gluten sensitivity which can still cause problems. Let’s see the common Gluten intolerance symptoms.

How is gluten intolerance diagnosed?

Doctors diagnose gluten intolerance by ruling out the more severe disease with similar symptoms – Celiac Disease. Doctors test for Celiac disease by examining the blood for specific antibodies. They then take a small sample of the lining of the intestine for biopsy. If there is damage, then it is Celiac Disease.


If you think you suffer from gluten intolerance, talk to your doctor before beginning any treatment.

Some of the common symptoms of gluten intolerance are:

1. Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is a common symptom of gluten intolerance. Most people suffer from diarrhoea at some point in their life. However, people suffering from gluten intolerance experience diarrhoea regularly. Diarrhoea can be very dehydrating and can lead to loss of electrolytes from the body.

2. Constipation

Do you have a bowel movement less than three times a week? Well, gluten may be the reason for this problem. Gluten intolerance causes chronic constipation. While increasing your intake of fibre and water can help, but it is better to avoid gluten in your diet for a happier digestive system.

3. Bloating

If you experience bloating after a meal, it can be a sign of gluten intolerance. Bloating is nothing but swollen of your stomach, full of gas after you have eaten. However, everyone who experiences bloating does not have gluten intolerance. But bloating is the most common symptom for most people who suffer from gluten intolerance.

4. Severe abdominal pain

Abdominal pain caused by the build-up of gas is another common symptom of gluten intolerance. More than 80 percent of patients suffering from intolerance to gluten complain of severe abdominal pain.

5. Migraines

Though all migraines are not linked to gluten sensitivity, it is responsible for a majority of them. According to a study, almost 60 percent of the individuals who suffer from gluten intolerance suffer from chronic headaches.

6. Fatigue

While it is common to feel tired due to long working hours and stressful life, people suffering from gluten sensitivity tend to feel severe fatigue. These people find it difficult to concentrate, are unable to finish the tasks they start and also feel dizzy often. Gluten intolerance can also cause anaemia, and this can add to the tiredness.

7. Skin Problems

Gluten intolerance can cause some extremely uncomfortable skin problems like rashes, itching, burning and even blisters. Dermatitis herpetiformis(DH), a skin condition linked to gluten intolerance, causes watery, itchy blisters. Psoriasis, another skin condition related to gluten intolerance, is marked by scaling and reddening of the skin.

8. Unexplained weight loss or weight gain

If you have recently lost weight for no apparent reason, Celiac disease could be to blame. In case of children, Celiac disease causes unexplained weight gain. In fact, three-fourths of the children suffering from Celiac disease are obese.

Gluten Intolerance Symptoms info graphic

9. Joint pain and muscle ache

Gluten sensitivity causes joint pain and muscle ache. In fact, studies have found a link between gluten intolerance and joint pain. The inflammation caused by gluten intolerance is the reason for these joint pains.

10. Numbness in legs or arms

Tingling or numbness in joints can be a sign of gluten intolerance or celiac disease. If you feel pins and needles in your toes for no apparent reason, it is time to get yourself checked for gluten intolerance.

11. Brain fog

Brain fog refers to a person’s inability to think clearly. People with gluten intolerance often complain of mental fatigue and forgetfulness. These symptoms may be a result of a reaction of some antibodies to gluten.

12 Anxiety and depression

If you have feelings of anxiety and depression for no apparent reason, gluten sensitivity could be the reason. Symptoms of depression include hopelessness, low energy, change in sleeping habits and more. Anxiety attacks lead to panic, feeling of loss, chest pain and breathlessness.

If you have gluten intolerance, you may have some or all of these symptoms. However, keep in mind that there could be other reasons for these symptoms. Contact your doctor immediately for further tests to confirm if you suffer from gluten intolerance. You can also try to remove gluten from your diet temporarily to see if the symptoms disappear.


Food to avoid

Gluten is a part of some foods. Avoid ingredients like flour, starch, wheat malt, bran, semolina and graham flour. Processed food like pasta, bread, cereals, and crackers also contain gluten. Certain sauces, ketchup, and ice-creams also contain gluten.

  • Bread
  • Biscuits
  • Cakes
  • Cereals
  • Pasta
  • Pizza
  • Salami
  • Chocolate
  • Beer
  • Soup

Gluten-free food

Fruits, vegetables and legumes are gluten-free. Always read the labels of processed food to check if they are gluten-free.

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Lamb
  • Rice
  • Potato
  • Corn
  • Nuts

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