Recognizing the Signs of Gluten Allergy Symptoms
With over 300 known gluten allergy symptoms today, most of these are difficult to detect, and even more difficult to treat. Some of these symptoms can also be very subtle; they may not make you feel any differently.
“There are thousands of people who suffer from celiac disease, but some people may not experience any gluten allergy symptoms at all,” says Christy Shatlock, RS/RD, and one of the lead dietitians for bistroMD. “Gluten can affect different people in different ways, causing them to have very different symptoms. Some people experience digestive problems, while others may develop conditions like anemia and infertility.”
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein naturally found in foods such as barley, wheat and rye. Foods that are made with these grains also contain gluten—bread, bagels, cakes, cereal, crackers, pasta, etc.
When a person with celiac consumes these foods, gluten allergy symptoms may become more prevalent.
What Are the Most Prominent Gluten Allergy Symptoms?
“If a person suffering from celiac consumes gluten, several noticeable physical symptoms can occur,” says Christy. “Many adults experience chronic fatigue, even if they are physically active and eat healthy. Children experience more digestive symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping.”
Other, less prominent gluten allergy symptoms include: bone loss, bone and joint pain, seizures, missed menstrual periods, arthritis, depression and/or anxiety, numbness in the hands and feet, itchy skin rashes, and canker sores inside the mouth.
If you notice any of these symptoms are worse when you consume foods containing gluten, it is vital that you see your physician right away so you can be tested for celiac disease.
What is Gluten Intolerance?
“If your physician reveals that you test negative for celiac disease, but you still suffer from the same symptoms, you could still be gluten intolerant,” says Christy.
Gluten intolerance, or non-celiac disease gluten sensitivity, is diagnosed when someone tests negative for celiac, but their symptoms seem to get better when they eliminate gluten from their diet.
Gluten sensitivity differs from celiac disease in that the condition has a different and distinct immune response in our bodies.
There is not a definitive test that determines if someone is gluten sensitive, but it is recommended that you see your physician so you can still be tested for celiac disease.
The only known cure for treating symptoms of gluten sensitivity, is through a gluten-free diet.
What Foods Can I Eat on a Gluten-Free Diet?
“The best, and only method for curing celiac disease is a gluten-free diet,” says Christy. “When eating a gluten-free diet, it’s important that you know how to read food labels when you shop.”
The next time you go grocery shopping, Christy recommends carefully reading every label. Some foods that you think may be gluten-free, may actually not be.
“If you suffer from gluten allergy symptoms, avoid purchasing foods that contain wheat, rye, barley, malt, and oats,” says Christy. “Also make sure that you check labels often, as food products can change the ingredients that they use.”
Here is a list of overlooked food items that may contain gluten, courtesy of the University of Chicago's, Celiac Disease Center.
Overlooked Foods That May Contain Gluten:
Sauces and gravy
Vegetarian meat substitutes
There are many foods that are also naturally gluten-free. Here is a list of these foods, courtesy of the University of Chicago's, Celiac Disease Center:
Foods That Are Naturally Gluten-Free:
Plain beef, pork, and lamb
Plain fish and shellfish
Plain chicken and turkey
Rice and Wild Rice (Not Brown)
Nuts and Seeds
“Even though transitioning into a gluten-free diet may not be easy, many of these foods have amazing health benefits, and will help you maintain a healthy weight,” says Christy.