5 signs you may be sensitive to gluten

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Are you experiencing certain symptoms indicating you might have sensitivity to gluten or what is known as gluten intolerance?  Gluten intolerance also known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity is not the same thing as having a gluten allergy or celiac disease.  The two conditions have different responses to the protein gluten found in wheat, barley, and rye.  However, the symptoms of both are very similar or almost identical making it very hard to distinguish to determine which one you may have without the use of medical tests.  Until you have the proper medical testing done, you do not want to self-diagnose as it could be indicative of another digestive condition such as irritable bowel syndrome.

It is estimated that approximately 6-7% of Americans may be intolerant to the protein gluten.  Because gluten sensitivity is still poorly understood and there are no bio-markers to help identify it, there are also no medical tests that can be performed to confirm the condition.  To diagnose gluten sensitivity, both celiac disease and wheat allergy must be ruled out.  Discuss with your primary care provider, a gastroenterologist or a dietitian what you are experiencing to have them help you determine what really is going on. 

There are certain indications that can help you recognize whether gluten is prompting an abnormal response in your body.  Here are 5 symptoms that could be making your life miserable and that can be corrected by avoiding gluten in your diet.

1.  Digestive issues

The first and foremost sign of gluten sensitivity often will trigger digestive discomfort.  Signs indicative of possible gluten sensitivity might include nausea and vomiting, cramping, bloating, diarrhea or constipation.  Since gluten is a common protein found in a diverse array of foods, a person may try avoiding foods containing gluten to see if that helps clear up the symptoms and if it makes any difference in how you react to certain foods.

2.  Brain fog

 If your ability to concentrate or think clearly has been tough to do, especially after eating foods containing gluten, this could be signaling gluten sensitivity.  Brain fog is also found in conjunction with other conditions so to be sure if it is related to eating gluten, try an elimination diet to identify or rule out gluten as the source of your problem.

3.  Mood swings

Granted, mood swings can be the source of numerous possibilities but if you notice your mood to change quite a bit after eating, it just might be due to gluten sensitivity.  What affects your gut can affect your brain leading to noticeable changes in your personality. One way to track this is to keep a food journal.  Write down what you eat at each meal and note what sort of mood changes occurs, if any.  Pay attention to how you respond to different foods and you may notice a pattern associated with foods containing gluten. 

4.  Skin problems

One annoyance many people with gluten sensitivity have can be skin issues.  This can range from chronic itching to skin inflammation especially from dermatitis herpetiformis (DH).  Individuals who are intolerant to gluten or have celiac disease can develop DH of which the symptoms are extremely itchy and blistering skin.  DH is a chronic condition but not everyone with gluten intolerance or celiac disease develops it.  Skin conditions should not be ignored and can be indicating an autoimmune response that needs attention.  See a dermatologist to help treat and clear up the condition. 

5.  Joint pain

Most people would not consider joint pain to be associated with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease since they mainly affect your gastrointestinal tract.  But joint pain can be one sign possibly indicating gluten sensitivity.  The most common locations tend to be the knees, back, hips, wrists and shoulders.  Typically we associate joint pain with growing older, gaining weight or developing arthritis.  This often is the case as inflammation of muscles and cartilage that make up the joint can flare up causing discomfort.  But many people with gluten intolerance and celiac disease also experience joint pain which could be stemming from nutritional deficiencies or overall inflammation provoked by gluten ingestion that happens in gluten sensitivity.