The mysterious language of your gut - is your belly acting like a secret agent, trying to tell you something in code? Does it start singing its own symphony after a bread basket serenade or make an embarrassing sound following a pasta party. Take it that it might be dropping a hint—loud and clear in some cases and don't ignore the symptoms, expecting them to disappear within the hour. Here are the tell tale signs your tummy’s got a bone to pick with gluten!
1. Abdominal Pain
The elusive abdominal pain and the chameleon of discomfort can be shrouded in mystery and often be masked by various potential causes. Hold on to your hats because here’s the spotlight-stealer. You could well have a gluten intolerance as up to 80% of sufferers of tummy pain are diagnosed with this.
It’s almost like a secret handshake living amongst your intestines, a nod to say, "Yep, gluten's not our jam." So, when that slice of bread becomes the villain in your stomach’s story, cue the pain, discomfort and the grand entrance of gluten sensitivity!
The belly does its expanding act—bloating! That uncomfortable sensation when your tummy decides to puff up after a meal like an uninvited guest overstaying its welcome. While bloating can be the cause of many a stomach ailment, it’s also a red flag waving herald for gluten sensitivity.
For many, it’s the body’s Morse code: "Gluten alert!" When your stomach turns into a balloon after a meal and there's no way you can disguise it, it might just be signalling an undercover gluten issue, making bloating not just a discomfort, but also a sly messenger.
The tumultuous tummy troubles of gluten intolerance can cue the nausea, that perpetual rollercoaster feeling where you don't want to puke but you feel that you may have no option. It’s like your stomach’s auditioning for a topsy-turvy ride at all times.
If nausea is a frequent visitor, particularly after wheat based foods and you're feeling queasy on repeat, it could be your gut sending an S.O.S. signal, a hint that gluten might be the mastermind behind this nauseating plot twist in your daily stomach saga.
The inflammation and irritation to the gut caused by a gluten intolerance can lead to damages to the gut lining and poor nutrient absorption. This will likely result in digestive discomfort, commonly followed by frequent diarrhea which can wear you out.
Diarrhea itself isn't the end of the world but if you're having it frequently there are a whole heap of health concerns that can follow. Besides sapping you of energy, you are likely to experience dehydration and fatigue. On top of that, it can be embarrassing in the company of others.
A more severe case of a gluten intolerance is called celiac disease. Those with celiac disease experience depression more than usual due to the social and financial burden it puts on them. Having to buy expensive gluten free foods can understandably stress you out.
When out socialising you find yourself scouring the menu for gluten free options that may not be your first choice of food, spoiling the experience and making you realise that this is the way it has to be, quite a depressing thought in some cases.
6. Joint pain
Shockingly gluten intolerances can cause pretty serious joint pain. It can hurt when you exercise or even just moving in general. Those with a gluten intolerance suffering from joint pain have described it as a sudden stabbing pain and it can also feel like a dull ache.
It's easy to pass off joint pain as simply thinking that you've been overdoing things lately but a pattern can form, especially if you are keeping a food diary and the answer might be staring you in the face. You could have an undiagnosed gluten allergy.
7. Autoimmune Disorders
Celiac disease, an autoimmune maestro, orchestrates chaos. The immune system, misguidedly viewing gluten as a foe, launches an internal attack, wreaking havoc on the small intestine. This relentless assault can jeopardizes your gut health but there's more ....
It also raises the curtain on potential collaborators—cue autoimmune thyroid disease. Research hints at a domino effect; the gluten-driven drama may set the stage for a cascade of autoimmune conditions, turning the body into an unwitting battleground for its own well-being
Constipation, the three-poop-a-week waltz, takes center stage in the gluten intolerance extravaganza. Amidst the gluten drama, some endure the relentless tango of diarrhea, while others face the peculiar conundrum—the bowel ballet comes to a standstill.
It's a bizarre twist, where gluten intolerance showcases its diverse acts, turning the digestive stage into a perplexing spectacle. A symphony of digestive peculiarities, from speedy exits to a stage freeze—gluten intolerance takes the audience on a rollercoaster of bowel bewilderment!
9. Brain fog
Enter the brain fog, the murky mist shrouding clear thinking in nearly 40% of gluten intolerance cases. The cause remains elusive, but tales of forgetfulness and mental fog abound. Could gluten be the mysterious puppeteer pulling the strings on cognitive acrobatics?
It's a perplexing plot twist where gluten's impact extends beyond the gut, leaving minds in a cloudy dance of forgetfulness and cognitive hurdles. The gluten-induced brain fog, a perplexing enigma that turns the spotlight from digestion to the intricate dance of thoughts and memories.
Celiac disease, the maestro of autoimmune havoc, conducts a symphony of fatigue. Chronic pain, disrupted sleep, and the melancholy melody of depression compose this exhaustion ensemble. It's a relentless performance where the body's immune confusion extends beyond the gut.
Sufferers of gluten intolerance can have a shadow cast over daily life with a persistent, draining fatigue. Celiac's intricate dance with autoimmune diseases becomes a wearisome ballad, leaving those affected caught in the tiring grip of a multifaceted health challenge.
11. Skin problems
Image source/Allergic Living
Gluten intolerance can have some nasty side affects to your skin. Celiac disease can cause a blistering skin condition known as which can be incredibly uncomfortable and painful. A gluten-free diet has also successfully shown that it can improve your skin, along with many other things.
12. Unintentional weight loss
An uninvited shift on the scale raises alarms and in the celiac mystery, rapid weight loss steals the spotlight. Undiagnosed celiac disease often orchestrates this vanishing act, with digestive woes and nutrient absorption glitches taking center stage.
The body, under gluten's sneaky spell, sheds pounds without explanation, turning the unsuspecting weight scale into a perplexing enigma. It's a weighty conundrum where celiac disease's impact extends beyond the gut, leaving its mark on the body's delicate balance.
13. Developments in some cancers
For those people with undiagnosed celiac disease or showing symptoms of gluten intolerance, the risk factor for cancer cannot be pushed aside. Ignoring a gluten free diet raises the curtain on a heightened vulnerability to various cancers. These are set out below.
Intestinal lymphoma and small bowel cancer are both potential diseases when the consequences of neglecting celiac disease extend far beyond the gut. It's really important to choose the gluten free path in order to try and steer clear of these cancers.
14. Leg or arm numbness
Gluten intolerances can certainly bring up a surprising act - neuropathy. This is numbness in the arms and legs, a sensation that's more than a little shocking! Research has hinted at celiac disease increasing the risk of this peculiar neuropathic dance.
Image source/Pain News Network
Brace yourself for the weird tingling, an unexpected twist where gluten intolerance takes center stage, not just in the gut but in the mysterious world of nerves and sensations. Once you get this tingling, it's a good idea to contact the doctors' office.
15. Difficulty breathing
Gluten intolerance's breathless drama unfolds as it triggers inflammation, stirring up respiratory chaos. The body reacts by tightening the airways, leading to difficulty breathing. This can be quite frightening for the individual, bringing it home how serious the intolerance can be.
The unexpected link between gluten and breath challenges adds a new and frightening layer to the complex tale of how this intolerance can manifest beyond the digestive stage. Breathing difficulties will depend on the severity of your gluten intolerance.
16. Canker Sores
Canker sores can be the unwelcome guests in the oral carnival, prevalent in about 6% of gluten intolerance cases. While canker sores have a myriad of origins, gluten intolerance introduces them as recurring players and they can be very annoying and painful ones at that.
The imperfect science suggests a link, pointing fingers at inflammation in the mouth's mucous membrane. It's like a mouthful of fireworks, where gluten's impact extends beyond the gut, setting off sparks of discomfort around oral health for those with the intolerance.
17. Iron Deficiency
Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency across the world, not to mention it accounts for 50% of all anaemia cases globally. Because celiac disease causes the disruption of nutrient absorption in the small intestine, less iron is absorbed from food.
This impaired absorption can lead to fatigue and weakness and a feeling that you have lost your "get up and go." Gluten avoidance and iron supplementation are common strategies to address this deficiency in those with gluten intolerance.
Celiac disease can cause disorders that affect coordination, balance and speech, also known as ataxia. The exact symptoms and severity can vary drastically and very much depends on the individual it effects. Ataxia usually is a result from damage to the cerebellum.
Because gluten may trigger an immune response that mistakenly attacks the cerebellum, a part of the brain governing coordination, adhering to a strict gluten free diet may help manage symptoms and prevent further neurological damage in those with gluten ataxia.
19. Microscopic colitis
For the people who have celiac disease but for some reason choose not to stick to a gluten free diet, put themselves at a much higher risk of developing microscopic colitis. This is an inflammation of the large intestine which can cause persistent watery diarrhea and severe cramps.
Whilst it's hypothesized that gluten may play a role in triggering or exacerbating microscopic colitis in susceptible individuals, the exact mechanisms and the relationship between gluten intolerance and microscopic colitis are still areas of ongoing research.
Conditions such as celiac disease which affect the central nervous system can lead to irritability. Irritability is often described as situational stress, anxiety, annoyance or frustration. In addition, the likes of chronic pain and fatigue from celiac disease can further pronounce it.
Discomfort from digestive issues, nutritional deficiencies due to malabsorption and the overall impact on well-being might contribute to irritability. While the exact connections are complex, addressing gluten related symptoms and maintaining a gluten free diet may help alleviate irritability in those with gluten intolerance.
21. Bone weakening
Untreated celiac disease can often cause the malabsorption of calcium and vitamin D into the body. This can result in the softening of the bone in children and a loss of bone density in adults. Both osteomalacia (rickets) and osteoporosis can be developed as a result.
Image source/Wiley Online Library
Damage to the small intestine which is caused by gluten can lead to decreased absorption of these vital nutrients which are crucial for bone health. Over time, this malabsorption may contribute to conditions that could make bones more susceptible to fractures.
22. Bacterial growth in small intestine
It's common for people with a mild gluten intolerance to be unaware of their condition. This often leads to them having a gluten contaminated diet which can lead a bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine (SIBO). Eating gluten when you shouldn't can be very harmful over time.
This imbalance can result in various gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Managing gluten intake, along with addressing bacterial overgrowth through dietary modifications and sometimes antibiotics, is a common approach in alleviating these symptoms.
23. Keratosis Pilaris
Keratosis Pilaris, otherwise known as "chicken skin," is caused by a build up of keratin which blocks your hair follicles and pours. This is caused by a fatty acid deficiency alongside a vitamin A deficiency, which is caused by gluten damaging the absorption of nutrients in the gut.
Tt's essential to note that more research is needed to establish a clear connection between gluten intolerance and Keratosis Pilaris. If someone suspects a link, consulting with a healthcare professional for guidance on dietary changes and skin care is advisable.
24. Delayed puberty in children
As celiac disease can greatly reduce your ability to absorb nutrients, one serious effect is the failure to absorb nutrients. For children, this can delay the start of puberty. The lack of certain vitamins can disrupt the hormonal balance which is needed to begin puberty.
Because hormonal imbalances can occur, potentially delaying the onset of puberty or affecting its progression, adopting a strict gluten free diet and addressing nutritional deficiencies under medical guidance can be crucial in supporting normal growth and puberty in children with gluten intolerance.
25. You suffer from type 1 diabetes
While type 1 diabetes doesn't inherently signal gluten intolerance, its presence heightens the risk of developing celiac disease. The intricacies between diabetes and celiac disease is complex. The disrupted insulin balance in type 1 diabetes may contribute to the likelihood of celiac disease.
This underscores the importance of vigilance and proactive monitoring for those with type 1 diabetes, as managing one condition effectively becomes crucial in averting the potential development of the other. Regular medical assessments and a tailored approach to diet and health are imperative for those navigating the dual challenges of type 1 diabetes and celiac disease.
26. Infertility and miscarriage
Besides bone weakening, due to the malabsorption of calcium and vitamin D, celiac disease carries severe consequences. This deficiency extends its reach to reproductive health, manifesting in serious consequences such as infertility and an increased risk of miscarriage.
The intricate connection lies in the body's compromised ability for it to absorb the crucial nutrients, impacting overall well-being. Untreated celiac disease intensifies these complications, emphasizing how critical it is to obtain an early diagnosis.
27. You avoid foods with gluten in!
A good sign you're intolerant to gluten is simply not liking the way it tastes. You may hate the taste of foods high in gluten, such as bread and cereals, and you may also hate the taste of beer. This may just be due to personal preference, but it could also be your body warning you!
If consistently avoiding gluten brings relief from digestive discomfort, fatigue or other symptoms, it could be worth exploring the possibility of gluten intolerance. However, for a conclusive diagnosis, consulting with a healthcare professional and undergoing proper testing is essential.
28. Your parents were gluten intolerant
The genetic link involves specific genes, particularly HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8. However, not everyone with these genetic markers develops celiac disease and some people without these markers can still develop the condition. Other factors, such as environmental triggers, can play a role.
Image source/USA Today
Celiac disease is very common to run in families. Therefore if a close family member has it, there's more than a good chance you could have it as well. If you're unsure about whether you have it, you're best seeing a doctor and getting yourself some tests. It's better to be safe than sorry!
29. Lactose intolerance
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. It results from a deficiency of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down lactose. gluten intolerance involves a reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and their derivatives.....
If you find that you're intolerant to lactose, there's also a possibility this is an underlying sign your intolerant to gluten. The damage caused to your small intestine due to celiac disease can make your stomach lactose intolerant so best to get it checked out.
A University study carried out in 2019 amongst students with celiac disease showed a pretty strong correlation between tension-type headaches and celiac disease, with over 50% suffering from persistent headaches and migraines, at least once every three weeks.
Gluten intolerance can contribute to nutrient deficiencies due to malabsorption in the gut. Deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and magnesium, are known to be linked to headaches so sufferers should take supplements to combat these deficiencies.
31. Lots of gas!
Gas/ wind/ or flatulence can lead to bloating or even pain. And, it results in you passing a lot of gas, probably frequently. This is a reaction to gluten which is caused due to the fact that your body cannot properly process or handle the gluten, resulting in excessive flatulence.
The inflammation and damage to the small intestine in gluten intolerance can disrupt the normal digestive process. Furthermore, some individuals with gluten intolerance may also have concurrent conditions like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which can exacerbate gas and bloating.
32. Poor appetite
A common symptom of celiac disease, when the person either does not know or is continuing to eat a diet which contains gluten, is loss of appetite. The gluten is causing you body damage, and as a result it affects you appetite because your body is not responding well.
Inflammation triggered by gluten intolerance may extend beyond the digestive system and impact overall well-being, influencing appetite regulation. Dealing with chronic symptoms and dietary restrictions can also affect one's mental and emotional state, affecting appetite.
33. Irregular periods
Many people with undiagnosed celiac disease have reported irregular periods. These may come in the form or super heavy periods, light periods, spotting or even skipping periods. This can be a sign and symptom that many people do not link with celiac disease.
Gluten intolerance can trigger inflammation. Inflammatory processes may affect hormones and disrupt the normal menstrual cycle. Chronic health conditions, including gluten intolerance, can influence overall health and stress levels, potentially contributing to menstrual irregularities.
34. Acid reflux and heartburn
A recent study has linked heartburn in mild and severe cases to people with gluten intolerance. People with undiagnosed or untreated celiac disease may experience acid reflux or heartburn due to the acid clearance being effective because the oesophagus is hyper sensitive.
Imbalances in the gut microbiota, associated with gluten intolerance, can influence digestive processes and contribute to acid reflux. If you experience persistent acid reflux and heartburn along with other symptoms suggestive of gluten intolerance, consulting with a healthcare professional is recommended.
35. Skin rashes and blisters
One sign of gluten intolerance or celiac disease is itchy and sore blisters. These blisters may occur most frequently on the knees, scalp, elbows , chest and buttocks. These skin problems are caused due to the damage of the lining of the small intestine.
Celiac disease, can lead to a skin condition known as dermatitis herpetiformis (DH). DH is characterized by the development of itchy, blistering skin lesions. These blisters are usually symmetrically distributed and commonly appear on the hand, elbows, knees, buttocks, and back.
Many studies have shown that celiac disease does not only affect the body in a physical way, but it also has neurological factors to consider as signs of celiac disease. One of these are feelings of anxiety, which is now considered as a common symptom of untreated celiac disease.
As gluten intolerance involves an immune response, the immune system activation can influence the central nervous system, affecting mood and anxiety. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, which may impact mental health, including anxiety.
Vomiting is an extreme reaction. Some people will feel nausea, but others will physically vomit due to the ingestion of gluten. The vomiting can also be coupled with bloating or stomach cramps. These are caused when you continue to eat gluten in your diet.
Gluten intolerance, particularly in celiac disease, can lead to inflammation and damage in the small intestine. This inflammation may trigger nausea and vomiting. Gluten-containing foods may cause irritation in the stomach lining, leading to these symptoms.
38. Thin hair
There has been strong links and connections made through research between people suffering from gluten intolerance or celiac disease and alopecia areata or thinning hair. This can vary from degrees of severity to think hair to complete baldness or hair loss.
Deficiencies in nutrients like iron, zinc, biotin and other B-vitamins, which are commonly seen in individuals with celiac disease, can contribute to hair thinning and loss. Iron deficiency, in particular, has been known to be associated with hair loss.
39. Dull skin
Dull skin can be a sign of many things, including a whole host of less serious problems or circumstances. But it is also a sign of celiac disease. Leaving the condition undiagnosed or continuing a gluten containing diet could lead to dry and dull looking skin.
Malabsorption in the small intestine due to celiac disease can lead to deficiencies in essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals vital for skin health. Nutrient deficiencies may contribute to dull and lack lustre skin. Dehydration, caused by stomach upsets in celiacs, can leave skin looking dull.
40. Overly sensitive gums and teeth
The symptom or sign of overly sensitive teeth and gums is particularly common in children with celiac disease. It can cause a burning sensation in the mouth, delayed formation of teeth, a feeling of a dry mouth as well as more cavities or yellow, decaying teeth than is usual.
Celiac disease can cause enamel defects in permanent teeth, known as dental enamel hypoplasia. Enamel defects can make teeth more susceptible to sensitivity and decay. The immune system's reaction to gluten in celiac disease can contribute to inflammation, affecting gums.
Seizures are a very serious and scary sign of celiac disease. This symptom/ sign is most prevalent in children who are suffering from celiac disease but it can also occur in adults. This is due to the neurological affects that glute have on the body, causing seizures to happen.
In celiac disease, the immune system reacts to gluten, leading to inflammation. This immune response can potentially affect the nervous system, triggering seizures in susceptible individuals. Deficiencies in nutrients may also contribute towards seizures.
42. Short stature
Sometimes, celiac disease can mean that people develop later or shave stunted growth. This is because when someone gluten intolerant or celiac has gluten, it can damage the growth spurt. The autoimmune disease can cause hypothyroidism which can have resistance to the growth hormones in our body.
In children with undiagnosed or untreated celiac disease, the malabsorption of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and proteins can interfere with normal growth patterns. This may manifest as a failure to thrive, delayed puberty, and overall stunted physical development.
43. Lots of stress
Celiac disease can unknowingly be causing a lot of stress for the person dealing with it, especially undiagnosed. Not only to your body, but also your mind. The stress on your body also leads to stress of the mind, as well as the disease causing neurological damage all on its own.
When you are adhering to a strict gluten-free diet, the primary treatment for celiac disease, it can be challenging. Constant vigilance is required to avoid gluten-containing foods, and this may create stress, especially in social situations or when dining out.
44. Feeling weak in your body
If you are suffering from celiac disease and you are not being strict enough in following the correct diet, your body will inevitably feel weak from consuming the gluten which is causing internal damage. This means you aren't absorbing what you need to make you strong.
Malabsorption of nutrients, particularly iron, vitamin B12, and folate, due to damage to the small intestine in celiac disease, can lead to anaemia and weakness. The stress and anxiety you may be feeling is a contributory factor to feeling weak.
45. Peeing more often than most
Peeing more often than you notice other people pee, or experiencing pain when you do go to pee or even more seriously seeing blood, can be signs of serious conditions including celiac disease. It could be an adverse effect of consuming gluten in your diet.
Diarrhea, which can be associated with celiac disease, may lead to dehydration. Dehydrated individuals may experience increased urinary frequency. Drinking more fluids due to symptoms like thirst or a dry mouth related to celiac disease, can result in more frequent urination.
46. You have Down's syndrome or Turner syndrome
Having Down's syndrome or Turner syndrome are not, in themselves, signs that you have celiac disease although studies show that if you have either of these syndromes, you could be at a higher risk of having celiac disease so percentage wise, it is more likely.
Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by the ingestion of gluten, can affect individuals with various genetic backgrounds. While there isn't a direct link between Turner syndrome and celiac disease, individuals with Turner syndrome, like the general population, could develop celiac disease.
47. It's particularly stinky when you go
One sign as we know, is irregularities in bowel movements, for example, constipation or diarrhoea. Another sign is that when you go to the toilet for a number two, the smell is especially putrid. This may be hard to recognise in yourself if it is something that hasn't changed.
Celiac disease leads to damage in the small intestine, affecting the absorption of nutrients. Malabsorption can result in undigested food particles in the stool, contributing to an unpleasant odor. Also, an increased intake of certain gluten-free substitutes can impact stool odor.
48. Disrupted sleep
Another sign, one which many people would not automatically link as a sign, is disturbed sleep. When you have untreated or undiagnosed celiac you may find that your sleep is disturbed, you may not be able to have a full night sleep and are waking up feeling exhausted.
Pain, discomfort, and bloating associated with celiac disease can interfere with sleep. If you are managing a chronic condition like celiac disease, this can lead to stress and anxiety which can, of course, disrupt sleep. You may fall asleep as normal but wake up several times during the night.
49. Difficulty concentrating
It is not actually known why this happens. It is thought to be caused by a reaction to some of the antibodies in gluten. But why? It is not yet fully known. But it is thought that around 40% of people with gluten intolerance have experienced this as a symptom.
50. Reddened skin
People with celiac disease may be more likely to suffer from the skin condition called psoriasis which is inflammation of the skin and it appears as scaly and red. You may notice rough or reddened patched of skin which could be a sign, as well as other skin issues.
Dermatitis, often present on the face, is another condition associated with celiacs. The primary treatment is a strict, lifelong gluten-free diet. Additionally, specific medications may be prescribed by a health professional to manage symptoms and prevent complications.