Gluten intolerance is a fairly common problem. It is characterized by adverse reactions to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten sensitivity and intolerance can manifest as much more than just IBS-like symptoms and stomach problems. That’s why doctors are more likely to dismiss the idea that you even have this because if they don’t hear about digestive problems as your key complaint, then it must be something else. And this also the main reason that the vast majority of people with the condition will never be diagnosed. Here’s a checklist of some of the surprising symptoms and signs of gluten intolerance.
1. Bloating: Bloating is one of the most common complaints of people who are sensitive or intolerant to gluten. It is when you feel that your belly is swollen or full of gas after you have eaten. One study showed that 87% of people who had suspected non-celiac gluten sensitivity experienced bloating.
2. Keratosis Pilaris: Keratosis pilaris, otherwise known as chicken skin, is a skin condition that appears as raised, hard bumps on the skin. They look like goosebumps, but they don’t go away like goosebumps would. This skin condition along with dermatitis herpetiformis, a similar skin condition, has been linked to gluten intolerance.
3. Migraine Headaches: While not all cases of migraines are related to gluten, it’s been linked as a significant cause for some. In a study that measured migraine headaches in gluten sensitive individuals, chronic headaches were reported in 56% percent of those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, 30 percent of those with Celiac disease, and 23 percent of those with inflammatory bowel disease. Only 14 percent of those in a control group reported headaches.
4. Autoimmune Disorders: Gluten consumption has been linked to numerous autoimmune diseases. Many people with gluten intolerance will develop the symptoms of an autoimmune disease, especially if they also have celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack your digestive tract after you consume gluten.
5. Brain Fog: “Brain fog” refers to the feeling of being unable to think clearly. Having a “foggy mind” is a common symptom of gluten intolerance, affecting up to 40% of gluten-intolerant individuals. This symptom may be caused by a reaction to certain antibodies in gluten, but the exact reason is unknown.
6. Mental Illness: Neurological issues like peripheral neuropathy (tingling in the extremities), epilepsy, depression, anxiety, and ADHD are all associated with gluten intolerance. Although gluten-intolerant individuals bear the brunt of its depression-causing properties, even those without gluten intolerance have been found to experience depression when eating it consistently.