Reaction to Gluten Allergy

Annette McDermott
Woman with stomach pain

Gluten Allergy Symptoms Vary

People who experience chronic intestinal distress are often surprised to learn that their symptoms, including diarrhea or constipation, are a reaction to gluten allergy ranging from mild gluten intolerance or severe celiac disease. However, gluten allergy symptoms are typically broader than an uncomfortable gut.

Anemia is a symptom of gluten intolerance

Anemia

If left untreated, celiac disease can lead to iron deficiency and anemia. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, one half of patients who are newly diagnosed with gluten intolerance are anemic.

Celiac disease destroys the tiny finger-like villi that line the small intestine and are responsible for carrying nutrients into the bloodstream. This malabsorption of nutrients can lead to anemia.

Woman with abdominal gas and bloating

Bloating

In some people, the reaction to gluten can lead to bloating and gas. MassGeneral Hospital for Children states that gluten sensitivity can cause bloating and other digestive symptoms. Bloating is not only uncomfortable but can be embarrassing as well.

If you experience this symptom, don't assume it is related to gluten. Talk with your health care provider to be certain your symptoms aren't related to another condition such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Depressed woman

Depression

The malabsorption of nutrients caused by food allergies or intolerances can lead to depression. Dr. Vikki Petersen, a chiropractor and certified nutritionist states in her article on Celiac.com that "after the digestive tract, the most commonly affected system to be affected by gluten is the nervous system."

This can lead to depression, irritability and moodiness in some gluten sensitive people. For those who cannot tolerate gluten, a gluten-free diet can aid depression.

Gluten sensitivity can cause headaches

Headaches

For those with gluten sensitivities and intolerances, eating gluten may result in severe headaches.

A PubMed abstract refers to "The Gluten Syndrome," a set of neurological problems including headaches and migraines caused by both celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Removing the trigger factor, gluten, from the diet has helped many live headache-free.

Stuffy nose caused by gluten intolerance

Upper Respiratory Tract Problems

Upper respiratory tract problems can happen to people who are allergic to gluten. This can include a tickle in the throat or the feeling of mucus/phlegm after eating, sneezing, stuffy nose, and chronic infections.

A PubMed abstract mentions a celiac patient with an extensive history of recurrent pulmonary infections experienced improved symptoms when going on a gluten free diet. In addition, a study by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology concluded that people with celiac disease have an increased risk of asthma.

Fatigue is a common gluten allergy.

Extreme Fatigue

Fatigue is another common symptom related to gluten allergy. Along with fatigue, other symptoms may include brain fog, short-term memory problems, and poor concentration.

In the case of a celiac related gluten reaction, this is likely due to the body's inability to absorb vitamins and minerals, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Gluten sensitivity can cause stomach problems

Diarrhea and Constipation

Many people with gluten sensitivity also have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that causes abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, constipation or bouts of both.

According to the IBS Treatment Center, many IBS patients are intolerant to gluten. These patients often find relief by eliminating gluten from their diet.

Woman with neck pain

Muscle and Joint Pain

Some people with gluten allergies suffer from muscle and/or joint pain that ranges from mild to severe and debilitating. The Gluten Free Society links gluten sensitivities with several painful conditions including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, scleroderma and lupus.

Patients diagnosed with these illnesses may benefit from a gluten free diet.

Child with gluten bread

Poor Growth

Dr. Rodney Ford indicates on his website that children who are diagnosed with "failure to thrive," a condition where kids are thin and not growing as they should, often have food allergies including celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Parents with kids who are not growing normally should talk to their pediatricians about the possibility of gluten allergy.

Talk to your doctor about gluten allergy

Talk to Your Doctor

These symptoms and others related to gluten allergy may mirror celiac disease symptoms. For this reason, testing is important to pinpoint your particular condition.

Whether your doctor finds you have celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or another degree of sensitivity, changing to a gluten-free diet will most often help symptoms diminish and, for some people, these symptoms may disappear entirely.

Annette McDermott
Was this page useful?
Reaction to Gluten Allergy