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How to Find Out if You Have Gluten Intolerance

Diana IvanovaDiana Ivanova
Nadia Galinova
Translated by
Nadia Galinova
How to Find Out if You Have Gluten Intolerance

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten acts as an adhesive and allows food to maintain its shape, it hardens bread dough, helps it rise and makes it sticky.

For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, it causes a negative immune response, which damages the gut. Doctors estimate that one percent of the population has celiac disease and about 15% are gluten sensitive. Even people without celiac disease may have an intestinal or immune response to gluten.

Due to such symptoms, celiac disease is sometimes confused with irritable bowel syndrome. Although there are no medical tests for gluten intolerance, there are steps you can take to recognize gluten sensitivity and improve your health.

Recognizing the symptoms of gluten intolerance

Short-term symptoms of gluten intolerance

Pay attention to your energy level after eating gluten foods. Sometimes, after eating more, we experience a slight decrease in energy, as the body needs strength to digest food. When gluten intolerant, the body puts a lot of effort into fighting the effects in the digestive tract, so you may feel tired after eating. Unlike mild postprandial lethargy, which all people experience from time to time, people with gluten intolerance may feel completely exhausted.

Gluten Intolerance

Pay attention to your mental and emotional state after consuming wheat products. Many people with gluten intolerance complain of irritability after eating. Irritability can be associated with fatigue or general breakdown, which occurs with a cold or flu. Some people with gluten intolerance experience a "brain fog" immediately after eating. In other words, they easily lose their thinking abilities and aren't able to concentrate poorly.

Pay attention to headache after eating. Headache is not a specific symptom and may resemble migraine or tension. Gluten intolerance is not associated with any specific headache. Many people with gluten sensitivity often experience headaches within 30 to 60 minutes after eating.

Watch for changes in the limbs. People with gluten intolerance experience joint pain and sometimes tingling and numbness in the arms and legs.

Watch out for symptoms associated with poor digestive performance. Although people with gluten sensitivity experience more non-digestive symptoms than patients with celiac disease, they may still experience discomfort. After eating, you may experience bloating and abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation and foul-smelling stools.

Long-term symptoms of gluten intolerance

Pay attention to weight fluctuations. While gluten sensitivity is most commonly associated with weight loss and malnutrition, it can also cause unexplained weight gain over time.

For some children, gluten intolerance can also cause dental problems due to lack of nutrients.

Pay attention to long-term changes in mental state. Gluten intolerance can cause depression, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, irritability, behavioral changes and mood swings. Consider all symptoms, as well as their severity and frequency.

Write down details of any skin rashes, including eczema. Gluten intolerance can sometimes cause an itchy, burning rash on the elbows, knees or back. Subsequently, scabs may form where the rash is.

Consult your doctor and they can determine whether this characteristic rash is caused by gluten intolerance.

Women with gluten sensitivity or intolerance may develop problems such as irregular menstrual periods, premenstrual syndrome, severe menstrual cramps, miscarriages and infertility. Currently, some doctors are testing for gluten intolerance in couples who are unsuccessfully trying to conceive a child and for unexplained reasons fail.


Diagnosis and treatment of gluten intolerance

Make an appointment with a doctor to check if you are gluten intolerant. Gluten allergy is one of the two serious symptoms of gluten intolerance along with celiac disease. Gluten allergies are most common in children and usually (but not always) disappear by the age of five. This allergy can be detected by a skin test or a blood test.

Anaphylaxis is life-threatening and requires urgent action, so call an ambulance at the first sign.

Ask your doctor if you may have celiac disease. Celiac disease is an immune response, which gradually destroys the hairs in the small intestine that absorb nutrients. This prevents the body from absorbing nutrients properly. The small intestine may become permeable and its contents may leak into the abdominal cavity. It can be diagnosed with blood tests and intestinal biopsies.

If your gluten allergy tests and celiac disease test are negative, but you suspect that your body is reacting negatively to gluten, you may have gluten intolerance or sensitivity. Here are a few steps.

Eliminate gluten-containing foods from your diet for 2-4 weeks. Remember that gluten can be found in salad dressings, spices, soups, sauces and even cosmetics. Gluten can even be found in vitamins and supplements. Always check the list of ingredients for all food and cosmetic products.

Gluten Foods

Keep a diary to keep track of your symptoms while excluding certain foods from your diet. Write down any changes during your diet. Review your notes to see if any of the symptoms listed above have improved or disappeared after you removed gluten from your diet.

Include gluten-rich foods in your diet again. Then pay attention to how you feel. If the missing symptoms return and you feel worse, you may indeed have a gluten intolerance.

If you do have gluten intolerance, once you reintroduce it into your diet, you will need to stop eating gluten-containing foods. Replace gluten-containing foods such as wheat, barley, rye, semolina and spelt with similar gluten-free foods such as amaranth, quinoa, peanut flour, rice flour and soy flour. Keep an eye on the labels of processed foods.


Never put a child on a restrictive diet without first consulting a pediatrician. First of all, celiac disease and gluten allergies should be ruled out. If the doctor believes that a restrictive diet can be helpful, they will make appropriate recommendations and continue to monitor the child.

If not treated properly, gluten sensitivity can not only lead to reproductive disorders in women, but also cause autoimmune disorders, osteoporosis, bowel cancer and liver disease.

Unlike gluten allergies, which can go away over time, general gluten intolerance is usually a permanent condition.


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