What does a gluten intolerance feel like?

Gluten intolerance

What does a gluten intolerance feel like?

Screenings suggest 1 in 100 people have coeliac disease in the UK, but only 24% of people with the condition are clinically diagnosed. This makes it much more common than previously thought. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease. It’s often the most severe form of gluten intolerance. In extreme cases, it causes damage to the digestive system, malnutrition, and osteoporosis. But, non-coeliac gluten sensitivity causes symptoms often identical to those of coeliac disease. The difference between the two conditions is the process your body undergoes when reacting to gluten.

The reason why a lot of gluten intolerance goes undiagnosed is due to the wide-ranging symptoms which vary between individuals. The symptoms of gluten intolerance sometimes don’t have anything to do with digestion. This means making the connection between what you are feeling and what you are eating is more difficult than you think. Below are some of the common symptoms that could signal you are experiencing gluten intolerance.

Digestive Symptoms

Digestive problems such as excess gas, bloating, diarrhoea, smelly faeces, and constipation could signal a gluten intolerance. These are some of the most common complaints from people who are gluten sensitive and intolerant. But, the cause of these symptoms can lie in a wide range of other illnesses or problems. Experiencing them doesn’t necessarily mean you have an issue with gluten.

Other physical symptoms may include abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, joint and muscle pain, and leg or arm numbness. These symptoms are physically uncomfortable but also leave you feeling miserable if they occur at inconvenient times which stops you enjoying your day. This is why it is best to find the cause of these problems if they happen regularly.


Gluten-intolerant individuals may be more prone to headaches than other people. It can leave you feeling tired and having a reduced ability to think clearly. This affects up to 40% of gluten intolerant individuals. Those who are gluten intolerant also seem to be at an increased risk of anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. These symptoms are often missed in connection with gluten intolerance as many find it unexpected that gluten-related illnesses affect your mental health as well as physical.

There are a few theories as to why this is the case. These include abnormal serotonin levels, gluten exorphins interfering with the central nervous system, and changes to the gut microbiota as a result of gluten intolerance. Gluten intolerance may directly cause anxiety and depression. But, the cause of these symptoms may be due to other physical symptoms which reduces your quality of life.

The feeling of being gluten intolerant can mimic the feeling of many other health issues and lead to a reduced sense of well-being. The symptoms are not specific to gluten intolerance. This means coeliac disease and non-coeliac gluten sensitivities go undiagnosed as people don’t always relate the symptoms to gluten. For this reason, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms it may be useful to keep a food diary to see if there are gluten related patterns with your symptoms.

If you are unsure whether you are suffering from a gluten intolerance, getting tested is the best way to understand what it might be causing these uncomfortable symptoms. Book an appointment with one of our specialists today.

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