Not everyone has the same symptoms. Unfortunatly, there is no set of symptoms you can check off to know if you have a gluten allergy or not. But these symptoms are a guide. If you have one or two key signs, along with some of the other red flags, you should suspect a gluten allergy. But don’t stop there, you next have to get tested.Keep in mind that if you appear to have a gluten allergy, it might actually be a celiac disease. It is essential that you get a celiac disease test to make sure you don’t have more serious health problems triggered by gluten.
Remember, these 10 signs are just a guide. You may have a gluten allergy and not have these particular symptoms, or you may have all the symptoms and it could be something completely different.
Be sure to read the further reading listed at the bottom of this article if you think you might have a gluten allergy.
1. Abdominal bloating
An uncomfortable feeling in the gut, usually caused by gas, but may also include a feeling of being unwell or even nausea. Bloating may be relieved somewhat or entirely by passing gas, but sooner or later, the feeling returns, usually after the next meal. It may be caused directly by inability to digest gluten, or because your digestion is off and other foods cannot be properly digested.
If you are lactose intolerant, you will probably experience a similar feeling. Since milk is the most common food intolerance in adults, cutting out mild is the first thing to try if this is your major symptom. If you have a gluten allergy, there is a good chance that cutting out dairy, especially milk and food with milk ingredients, will reduce symptoms considerably. It may also be possible to drink milk in limited quantities once you have been off gluten for a while. If you have celiac disease, this is especially true, as celiac damages the villi, which is where lactase, the enzyme that digests milk, is made in your digestive track. It is unclear why a gluten allergy causes difficulties with digesting milk.
If eliminating milk clears up all of your symptoms, it may be milk, rather than gluten, which is your problem.
Asthma sometimes triggered by gluten or wheat. Many people report having asthma problems for years, and requiring an inhaler to control symptoms. Some people have found that by eliminating gluten from their diet, symptoms either disappear or reduce substantially.
This does not mean to say that every one with asthma has a gluten allergy, but if you have asthma, it is well worth cutting out gluten for a few weeks to see if your asthma problems improve.
See the article Wheat, Gluten and Asthma on this website for more details and the hundreds of comments people have left about their experience with this problem.
3. Attention deficit and behavioral problems (in children and adults)
Many adults find that focusing on the task at hand can be a real challenge. They also notice this in their children. You may find that eliminating gluten has a magical effect on your ability to concentrate. Like other gluten allergy symptoms, don’t expect to have perfect concentration the day after cutting gluten out of your diet, it takes a while for the gluten to clear out of your system. And there is no shortage of other things that reduce your attention span so this may not be a cure-all. But it just might be all you need to gain the focus you need.
Many parents report that putting their children on a gluten-free diet eliminates or reduces major behavioral problems in children, such as frequent temper tantrums and failure to follow instructions. Children are rarely if ever angles all the time, but if you have extreme and constant behavioral problems, a gluten free diet may do the trick.
4. Brain fog
This is similar to concentration problems but worse. Brain fog makes it hard to think, period, and while we’re at it we can include chronic forgetfulness here too. If you feel thoughts floating around in your head and just can’t pin them down, if you know you are smarter than you feel, if thinking is painful, then it sounds like you might have brain fog. This is a common gluten allergy symptom.
5. Chronic fatigue syndrome and Insomnia
Are you tired all the time, especially after meals? Do you go to bed early, get up late, have lots of naps, and still feel exhausted? A hectic life may be the cause, but then again, if you have a gluten allergy, and you cut out gluten, you may find yourself able to keep up.
A related problem is insomnia. One classic downward spiral is being tired all day but unable to sleep at night. Gluten-induced insomnia may be responsible for many of the other gluten-related symptoms in some people, such as brain fog and lack of concentration.
6. Diarrhea or constipation
“Bathroom issues” are a common complaint with gluten allergy. Some people have diarrhea, while others have constipation. Some people alternate between the two. This is a sign that your digestive system is not operating properly. Diarrhea is also a common symptom of milk intolerance, so if cutting out gluten doesn’t help, try cutting out milk. You may even want to cut out both initially to give your body the best chance of giving you a break on this one. Then introduce one of them to see if it causes the problem so you know what the cause is.
A related symptom some people report is that when they use the bathroom, they never really feel like they are empty.
Depression is a common problem, unfortunately, and responsible for a lot of wasted time in life. Depressed saps the physical and mental energy to get on with life. Major depression may send people to their doctor or even the hospital, but what I call “minor depression” just takes the edge off life and reduces performance in all sorts of ways, but may not be enough to motivate a trip to the doctor.
Gluten allergy can be one cause of depression, especially minor depression. It may take many weeks for the gluten to clear out of your system before your mood improves, but it sure is worth it. One thing to watch out for: depression also makes it very hard to start and maintain a gluten free diet. Hopefully you can get help with this from those close to you. Also, be as strong as you can.
Chronic or frequent headaches can be caused by a gluten allergy. While aspirin, paracetamol and similar pain killers may help manage symptoms but they are not the answer to chronic headaches, especially as they are hard on the stomach/liver, especially if taken frequently.
Headaches have many causes. It is a possible gluten allergy symptom.
If you get set off by the slightest thing, especially if this doesn’t feel like “you”, then you can suspect that your body is out of balance. Gluten is one possible cause. Yeast allergy is another possible cause.
10. Skin problems
Eczema, rashes and hives are all common allergic reactions. They are pretty non-specific, and if your allergies are causing skin problems, it is probably causing other problems as well.
If skin problems are driving you crazy, and you can’t find the cause, look into allergies as a possible cause. Of course any allergy could cause skin problems. Allergy testing might help. If other symptoms point towards a gluten allergy, then see if a gluten free diet clears up your skin problems too.
If you think you have a gluten allergy, I highly recommend you read the following:
What experience do you have with these symptoms? Do you think you have a gluten allergy? Did you try following an elimination diet? What have been the results? Please share you questions and experiences and leave a comment.