When many people hear about issues with gluten, they automatically think of Celiac disease, but many people simply have an intolerance to gluten and not the full-blown Celiac disease. When you have an intolerance, this likely will not show up on blood work, so you need to track your symptoms, your diet and then see how the two match up.
It is estimated that as many as 18 million Americans are suffering from a gluten intolerance that is not related to Celiac disease. Because of this, you want to know the warning signs so that you can be on the lookout for them.
Those with a gluten intolerance can experience a variety of different skin issues that are not explained by anything else. A flushed complexion, acne, different types of pimples, and unexplained rashes that just seem to pop up are all examples.
The rashes are often referred to as dermatitis herpetiformis, and they most often occur on the knees, back, elbows, buttocks and the back of the neck. The rash is often chronic, and the itching is present almost all of the time.
Migraines and Brain Fog
You may experience one of these or both, depending on your level of intolerance. The brain fog can make it hard to concentrate or remember your tasks for the day. The migraines can be incredibly debilitating for some people, leaving them unable to complete normal daily tasks when they are present. Both of these can lead to irritability and depression.
Bloating and Stomach Distension
Since this is a food intolerance, it is not uncommon to experience bloating and stomach distension. These occur after eating something that contains gluten, making it easy to pinpoint the culprit. Both of these symptoms can get rather uncomfortable and cause belly aches as well.
Numbness in the Extremities and Joint Pain
These two symptoms are not often contributed to this intolerance right away because many people think they are just tired and working too hard. However, extremity numbness and joint pain are very common symptoms of gluten intolerance.
The numbness can be described as feeling like a limb fell asleep or like pins and needles. The joint pain is similar to the pain experience with arthritis, and it is due to inflammation. The joints, especially the joints in the knees, fingers, and hips, can get swollen, painful and lose some of their range of motion.
Constipation, Diarrhea, and Gas
These three symptoms are all very common with all types of food issues and intolerance problems. If you suspect a gluten intolerance, pay close attention to these signs and track when they occur. Keep a food journal that documents everything you eat and drink and how you feel during and afterward. It will help to determine if gluten is causing these problems.
Fatigue and Sluggishness
If you frequently wake up after getting a good night’s sleep and feel tired and sluggish, gluten may be to blame. This intolerance can interfere with your natural sleep patterns so even though you are getting plenty of sleep, your body may not be getting the deep rest is needs during those hours. For some people, the fatigue is just mild, and for others, it can be quite severe.
Unexplained Mood Issues
Many people with a gluten intolerance develop problems like depression, anxiety and other mood issues that they cannot explain. Part of this may be due to the interruptions in sleep, but in most cases, there is just no good reason for it.
Some people describe it as they are fine one day and then all of the sudden they wake up one morning feeling depressed and experiencing anxiety.
Different hormonal issues may occur as a result of a gluten intolerance. Research is currently looking at the possible relationship between this intolerance and polycystic ovarian syndrome, premenstrual syndrome and unexplained fertility. It is thought that if someone has issues with gluten that these issues could get worse, especially when gluten is consumed.
Diagnosis of an Autoimmune Disease
There is research being conducted looking at whether or not autoimmune diseases and gluten intolerance are related. Some scientists are looking to see if an autoimmune disease increases the risk of this intolerance or if this intolerance enhances the risk of autoimmune disease.
Many people that have issues with gluten have an autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, myasthenia gravis, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis or multiple sclerosis. It is also important to point out that Celiac disease is classified as an autoimmune disease.
Some people with this intolerance start experiencing different neurological symptoms that can inhibit their ability to function. Things like feeling off balance, a reduction in coordination and episodes of dizziness can all occur. These happen within about an hour after eating a meal that contains gluten.