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10 Most Common Signs of Gluten Intolerance

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A young woman sitting on her couch while holding her stomach  in discomfort
Understanding your symptoms is the key to knowing whether you are gluten intolerant.

Gluten is a protein in wheat, barley, and rye, commonly termed "gluten grains." An individual with gluten sensitivity most likely experiences uncomfortable symptoms after eating foods such as cereals, bread, pasta, sauces, malt-based foods, canned soups, and even certain kinds of chocolates.

Becoming gluten-free is pretty simple. The different gluten-free options provided by various meal delivery services are great for those needing clarification about starting a gluten-free diet. Check food labels, even when using an online grocery shopping site.

Three types of gluten tolerance have been established. They are :

  1. Celiac or coeliac disease: An auto-immune disease and the most severe form of gluten intolerance
  2. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS): Intolerance exhibited in people without celiac disease
  3. Wheat allergy: An allergic reaction caused by eating wheat products, foods containing wheat proteins, or inhaling wheat flour

An individual who does not have Celiac disease can still exhibit symptoms of gluten intolerance. Below, you can find 10 of the most common signs of gluten intolerance.

1. Bloating

Bloating occurs when an individual experiences a tight and full feeling in the abdomen due to gas, a widespread gluten intolerance symptom.

Though the exact cause is unclear, wheat and rye are high in gluten, and regular consumption of such high-gluten foods can make the body more sensitive and create digestive issues.

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2. Abdominal Pain

An individual experiencing frequent stomach pain, especially after eating foods with gluten, should be checked for gluten intolerance, celiac disease, or a wheat allergy.

Research shows that wheat or foods containing gluten can trigger inflammation and pain in patients with celiac disease. Abdominal pain is also commonly seen in adults and children who may be gluten intolerant.

3. Diarrhea or Constipation

Constipation or loose stools can indicate gluten sensitivity, specifically celiac disease.

When the body does not digest gluten-based foods well, the result is diarrhea with pale and foul-smelling feces, sometimes followed by rapid weight loss.

Constipation can commonly occur in many individuals, but frequent constipation without any underlying cause may point to non-celiac gluten intolerance with a positive response to a gluten-free diet.

4. Headaches

Headaches are a common symptom of fever, colds, eye strain, etc. But if you experience frequent headaches and migraine attacks without any other medical conditions, a doctor may suspect gluten intolerance as a likely cause.

Inflammatory responses to gluten intake may be a factor in inducing headaches. Scientific studies show that headaches or migraines in adults and children may be caused by gluten intolerance, specifically celiac disease.

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5. Fatigue

Fatigue is a common symptom in many severe medical conditions, especially autoimmune disorders. Since celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, individuals diagnosed with it may experience fatigue regularly.

Iron deficiency anemia is another condition that occurs due to celiac disease, where the production of red blood cells in the body lowers. The result of impaired duodenal iron absorption in this condition can also lead to reduced energy levels and fatigue. Including foods to increase iron levels can help improve your energy levels.

Even individuals with non-celiac gluten sensitivity report fatigue as a common symptom. One study found that 64% of 486 people suspected of non-celiac gluten sensitivity reported that they experienced tiredness.

6. Mood Disorders

Gluten sensitivity can result in certain individuals experiencing mood disorders or extreme anxiety. People who are gluten intolerant can have brain inflammation that manifests as increased anxiety. Anxiety brings about intense worry or agitation and can lead to depression if untreated.

Studies have shown that people who are gluten intolerant are more likely to face mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. A gluten-free diet can relieve these symptoms in many individuals.

7. Muscle and Joint Pain

The body’s reaction to gluten can be in the form of muscle and joint pain. When inflammation occurs, it affects the functioning of muscles and causes joint pain.

Studies affirm that gluten intolerance can trigger fibromyalgia, and this condition results in intense pain in the muscles and associated joints.

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8. Brain Fog

Brain fog is a condition where one is unable to think clearly. Individuals may encounter brain fog in the form of forgetfulness and a fatigued or clouded mind. A person experiencing brain fog should get checked to rule out gluten sensitivity.

Research shows that brain fog is one of the most common symptoms described by nearly 48% of individuals with gluten intolerance. An abnormal absorption of gluten through an alteration in the small intestinal barrier can affect the central nervous system and trigger neuroinflammation and brain fog.

9. Skin Problems

Gluten sensitivity can create skin problems ranging from mild to severe in people with celiac disease. Such conditions include psoriasis, alopecia areata, dermatitis herpetiformis, and more.

Different theories surround these conditions, but gluten intolerance often affects the small intestine in those with celiac disease. Because of this, more antigens (toxins) impair nutrient absorption in those with celiac disease and may be a reason for the prevalence of some conditions.

10. Infertility

Reproductive issues are becoming increasingly prevalent in people with gluten intolerance. Experts say that gluten may sometimes be the culprit in unexplained infertility, especially for people with celiac disease.

The possible reason for infertility is poor nutrient absorption, specifically the absorption of zinc, iron, folate, and selenium, which affect reproduction in different ways.

Coping With Gluten Sensitivity

Gluten intolerance is troublesome but often undetected in many people. The best way to manage it is to understand its symptoms and take steps to prevent them.

Gluten intolerance can be managed by avoiding foods that contain gluten. Knowing what to eat makes it easier, whether you prepare food at home or eat out. Using gluten-free meal delivery services like Sunbasket or Home Chef is another safe option for individuals who prefer the convenience of ordering meals.

Along with the right medical intervention, diet modifications, and strict diet adherence can help effectively manage gluten intolerance.

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Head and shoulders photograph of Anju Mobin
Anju Mobin is a certified nutritionist, Diet and Fitness Consultant at numerous medical clinics, founder and editor of, and a writer for Anju strives to simplify complex information about nutrition, health, and fitness for the general public.

*The information on this site is based on research, but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new diet plan, we recommend consulting with a physician or other professional healthcare provider. Results may vary based on various health factors, individual weight loss plans and adherence to the meal plan.