10 Most Common Symptoms of Gluten Allergy

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It seems that every second person walking down the street has a gluten allergy or is gluten intolerant.

In conjunction with this, there has been a huge increase in the production of gluten free foods.

In fact, I would go as far as to suggest that gluten free is the most marketable term within the health and fitness industry today.

But is gluten intolerance that big of a deal?

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Or can removing gluten from our diet actually improve our quality of life?

To first answer these questions we need to gain a understanding of what gluten is, and how it interacts with the body.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a type of protein found in grains like wheat, rye, spelt and barley.

Obviously, of these grains that do contain gluten, wheat is the most commonly consumed.

There are two main gluten proteins.

Glutenin and Gliadin

Gliadin is the gluten protein that has been suggested to cause the negative health effects associated with gluten consumption [1].

When flour and water are mixed together, gluten proteins become sticky, become almost glue-like in substance.

These glue like properties is what makes dough feel soft and elastic.

This is what allows bread to rise when baked.

This is also what gives bread its texture.

Why is gluten bad?

Now it is important to note that Gluten is not bad for everyone.

But, it can be bad for some people.

In fact, most of the population can tolerate the consumption of gluten without any issues at all.

But it does cause problems in people with celiac disease, people who are gluten sensitive, and who suffer from a wheat allergy [2].

In these people, gluten is picked up as an invader in the body.

This is similar to that seen from someone suffering an autoimmune disorder.

The immune system attacks the gluten in the gut, as well as the lining of the gut.

This can lead to very irritable bowels, bloating, abdominal discomfort, digestive issues, headaches, tiredness, skin rashes, depression, and intestinal tissue damage [3].


To summarise, gluten intolerance is bad.

But how do we know we have gluten intolerance?

10 Most Common Symptoms of Gluten Allergy / Gluten Intolerance



Being bloated is the worst.

You feel uncomfortable, sore, and often miserable.

If you experience bloating immediately after the consumption of wheat based products, it might be a sign that you are allergic or intolerant to gluten.

This demonstrates your inability to digest gluten, and the issues associated with the immune system attacking the lining of the gut.


This tends to go hand in hand with bloating.

As means to remove the gluten from the gut, the digestive system can ‘shut down’.

This allows the immune system a significant amount of time to attack gluten, removing it from our system.


Diarrhoea can be an immediate result of the immune systems response to gluten in the stomach in those who are allergic or intolerant to gluten.

It often occurs after stages of bloating and constipation, if the immune system cannot remove gluten from the gut completely.

As an additional mechanism to remove gluten the system, the body attempts to ‘flush’ it out.

This can result in extreme diarrhoea, which can lead to dehydration, abdominal pain, and rectal pain.

Additionally, prolonged diarrhoea can result in a loss of good bacteria from the gut.

This can cause negative health implications, and further affect our digestive function.


With gluten intolerance, the immune system is working overtime to remove gluten from the body.

This takes its toll.

In fact, it can even lead to excessive fatigue.

This is associated with feelings of lethargy, difficulty concentrating, feelings of vertigo, and a general lack of energy.

If prolonged, this can lead to chronic fatigue, and even bouts of dizziness and fainting!

Skin Problems

If you find you are getting unexplainable rashes on the skin of your arms or legs, it may be a sign of gluten intolerance.

In addition to gut irritability, the increased function of the immune system can also lead to inflammation under our top layer of skin.

This can lead to rashes, itchiness, burning, redness, and even blisters.

These typically break out shortly after the consumption of gluten, and are a sign that you may be gluten intolerant.

Neural Problems

This is getting down the more extreme signs of gluten intolerance.

In some individuals, gluten can cause issues with the body’s neural system.

This can result in numbness of the hands and feet, and even abnormal or uncontrolled movements.

While these are quite sever signs, fortunately they are also somewhat rare, occurring in approximately 0.5% of the population.

But, if these neural issues do present after the consumption of gluten, it is almost a sure sign you have gluten intolerance.


Those with gluten allergy or gluten intolerance have shown to present with depressive symptoms after the consumption of gluten.

This includes feelings of sadness, anxiety, hopelessness, and guilt.

In addition to these, it is not uncommon to experience insomnia, and loss of interest in almost everything.

Joint Pain

Those with more extreme cases of gluten intolerance often experience joint pain.

This can include unexplained pain in the knees, of the back, the hips, and of the shoulders.

Interestingly, the reasons haven’t been determined as to why gluten causes joint pain in those who are intolerant to gluten, but the relationship has been demonstrated [4].

Headaches and Migraines

Experiencing extremely bad headaches after the consumption of gluten is another sign of gluten intolerance.

In fact, over 50% of those with a gluten intolerance have been suggested to experience chronic headaches [5].


Heartburn is an irritation caused by stomach acid regurgitation into the oesophagus.

It is also a sign of gluten intolerance.

In those who have a gluten allergy, the gluten slows the digestion of food.

This is compounded by the immune system slowing down digestive processes in an attempt to destroy gluten in the gut.

This causes an increase in stomach acid in the gut, which can lead to heartburn.

If you experience heart burn after eating gluten dense foods, it may be a sign of glute intolerance.

In Conclusion

While gluten is find to consume for majority of the population, it can cause issues in those who are intolerant or highly sensitive to gluten.

In these people, it can have a number of negative effects on health.

It can also cause a number of nasty side effects.

As such it should be avoided.

If you experience any of these 10 most common symptoms of gluten allergy or gluten intolerance, it might be worth going gluten free by removing gluten from your diet and seeing the response!

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1. Wieser, Herbert. “Chemistry of gluten proteins.” Food microbiology 24.2 (2007): 115-119. Viewed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17008153

2. Sapone, Anna, et al. “Spectrum of gluten-related disorders: consensus on new nomenclature and classification.” BMC medicine 10.1 (2012): 1. Viewed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22313950

3. Fasano, Alessio, and Carlo Catassi. “Current approaches to diagnosis and treatment of celiac disease: an evolving spectrum.” Gastroenterology 120.3 (2001): 636-651. Viewed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23155333

4. Tonutti, Elio, and Nicola Bizzaro. “Diagnosis and classification of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.” Autoimmunity reviews 13.4 (2014): 472-476. Viewed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24440147

5. Hadjivassiliou, M., et al. “Headache and CNS white matter abnormalities associated with gluten sensitivity.” Neurology 56.3 (2001): 385-388. Viewed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11171906

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About the Author John Wright

John has been a fitness enthusiast for over 10 years, starting out while struggling with obesity as a teenager. Over the years he has advised numerous clients on how to transform their physiques and their lives. As a writer on Nutrition Inspector he aims to help others achieve real results by staying clear of the common hype and false claims in the supplement industry! You can contact him via the "About Us" page.

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