Gluten is a compound made of several non water soluble proteins. Due to its complex composition, many people find it difficult to digest and suffer from reactions. This article provides a list of symptoms exhibited when the body finds it intolerable. The gluten intolerance symptoms given here can help you become aware of this problem and seek proper care.
Since the body first interacts with gluten during the digestion process, most of these symptoms are concentrated around the digestive tract. Hence the symptoms can be grouped as belonging to the digestive tract or otherwise.
I. Gluten intolerance symptoms related to the digestive tract
Soon after the food reaches the digestive tract, there is an adverse reaction in it which leads to symptoms such as – Abdominal bloating and distention, alternating periods of constipation and diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping, lactose intolerance, indigestion and strange rumbling sounds in the stomach (Borborygmi) which may be due to the passage of gas in the intestines.
Moreover the affected person will also suffer from reflux of acid, flatulence which may be very foul smelling gas, vomiting or nausea. A special characteristic can be gray colored stool, the stool will also have a strong odor or stool with a high content of fat – a condition known as Steatorrhea. This causes the stool to float in water as the fat make it floats on the surface rather than sink.
The affected person will also develop mineral and vitamin deficiencies as the stomach will not be able to absorb minerals and vitamins due to the obstruction of the digestive and absorption process. The person will most probably lose weight but some people may instead gain weight. The nutritional deficiencies will also lead to stunted growth which can be noticed in physical and mental forms. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and low Ferritin (low Iron content in blood) are also noticed.
The disruptions of digestive function will also result in fatigue and depletion of energy causing tiredness. Gluten intolerance also leads to a host of problems in the mouth such as – poor dental health, bad breath, weak or easily infected gums, the erosion of teeth enamel and the discoloration of the teeth. Sores in the mouth and lips split at the edges are also symptoms of gluten intolerance.
II. Gluten intolerance symptoms related to the other parts of the body
Stunted growth both physically and mentally is a symptom which can be easily noticed. The stunted physical growth makes the person short. An affected person will suffer from autism, poor concentration (attention deficit disorder) and will be irritable. Anxiety and depression are also common. Headache, migraine, hyperactivity and schizophrenia are also noticed. Fluctuating behavior, mood swings and seizures will also be noticed in the person. A condition called Gluten Ataxia is also seen. The affected person will have difficulty in balancing and will find it difficult to coordinate his movements properly. Some affected people may even suffer from night blindness.
There are several bone and joint related problems too. They are – osteoporosis (weakening of the bones), pain in the joints, Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (which is also known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) and Sjogren’s Disease.
The affected person will also suffer from weak muscles along with cramping, tingling and numbing in certain areas in the body. This condition is known as Peripheral Neuropathy. Eczema, rashes (Dermatitis Herpetiformis), Turner Syndrome, Hives (Urticaria), Psoriasis, Rosacea, Acne and itching are some other symptoms. The skin will be easily bruised and some may even suffer from bleeding in their nose.
Women are particularly at risk as they can suffer from infertility, miscarriage, irregular menstrual cycles and delay in reaching puberty. Babies too are at a risk as their growth will suffer or slow down considerably till they are able to tolerate gluten to some extent. However many children adapt to this intolerance as they grow older.
III. Gluten intolerance symptoms in babies
Babies who suffer from such intolerance display symptoms such as – crying soon after feeding, vomiting of the food or regurgitations at intervals, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD, which can be one of the reason why the baby feels uncomfortable and starts crying), irritability and skin rashes, especially at the buttocks. Breastfeeding will help the baby develop tolerance levels for gluten, but it will not be erased completely. Older children often clutch their stomach if they feel discomfort and this can be taken as a symptom of upset stomach caused by gluten intolerance i.e. if this happens soon after feeding them food substances rich in gluten.
Gluten intolerance symptoms and the symptoms of celiac disease are common; hence they can be difficult to differentiate. You must realize that this is a chronic condition and may stay lifelong. As you grow over the years the symptoms may weaken or become too mild to cause much discomfort. However mild they are, these symptoms should not be ignored. A well planned diet is the only solution and possible option against this condition.