8 Surprising Symptoms of a Gluten Allergy

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

8 Surprising Symptoms of a Gluten Allergy. So you’re feeling tired and headachy, and
your digestive system has been off for awhile. Maybe you have some other symptoms like a
rash or a frequent feeling that your brain is in a fog. You’ve heard about gluten or the gluten-free
diet, and you know that lots of people are going gluten-free, and you start to wonder
if you actually could have a gluten allergy. But what exactly is a gluten allergy, and
what symptoms would you exhibit if you had such an allergy? There are actually five different kinds of
gluten allergies, and each has its own distinct set of signs and symptoms. Still, there’s plenty of overlap between these
five conditions, and many of their symptoms involve the types of sometimes vague problems
listed above: digestive issues, skin issues, and neurological issues. Of course, not everyone with these symptoms
will have a gluten allergy, since there are plenty of other possible causes for each. But the possibility of your having an issue
with gluten is worth considering if you and your doctor can’t identify other potential
reasons for your problems. With that, having one or more of these eight
symptoms could indicate you have a gluten allergy. The next step from there is getting tested
for the various types of gluten allergy or talking to your doctor about a trial of a
gluten-free diet. 1.Dysfunctional Digestion. Not everyone with a gluten-related issue has
digestive problems, but enough people do have this issue to make it number one on our list. These so-called digestive “problems” can involve
diarrhea, constipation, reflux, or simply abdominal pain, and they’re frequently seen
when you have one of the two most common types of gluten allergy: celiac disease and non-celiac
gluten sensitivity. These digestive symptoms can range from merely
annoying to completely debilitating. In addition, in some cases, people who’ve
been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome actually have a form of gluten allergy, and
when they stop eating gluten, their IBS diminishes or goes away entirely. It’s important to note that you do you not
need to have digestive symptoms in order to have a gluten allergy. In fact, lots of people have one of the other
issues on this list as their primary symptom, and don’t have digestive symptoms at all. But if you do have dysfunctional digestion,
it’s possible that gluten is the cause. 2.Red, Itchy Bumps. People with celiac disease and non-celiac
gluten sensitivity are prone to various forms of skin rashes. Perhaps the best known (and itchiest and most
miserable) of these rashes is an autoimmune skin condition known as dermatitis herpetiformis,
or “DH” for short. DH (one of our five different types of gluten
allergy) occurs in conjunction with celiac disease. It is an intensely itchy rash that also often
“burns” and “stings” and appears as red, water-filled bumps. The good news is that this uncomfortable rash
can be effectively treated with a combination of a medication called dapsone and a gluten-free
diet. Besides dermatitis herpetiformis, there are
other rashes linked to celiac disease (or gluten-related disorders), although the association
is not scientifically proven, as it is with DH. Examples of these rashes include: -psoriasis
-chronic urticaria (hives) -atopic dermatitis
The big picture here is that not every rash is caused by gluten. But if you’ve got red bumps that just won’t
go away no matter what you do, you might want to consider your diet as a possible cause. 3.Foggy Brain. Having a foggy brain means you tend to have
difficulty concentrating, or experience short-term memory lapses. You may also find yourself losing your train
of thought in conversations or when writing, and you might sometimes become confused or
disoriented. Brain fog is a top symptom in three of the
five different types of gluten allergies. In other words, people with celiac disease,
non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and the brain disorder gluten ataxia all report varying
degrees of brain fog. Of course, having brain fog is not a slam
dunk indication you have a form of gluten allergy. There is a slew of other conditions that include
brain fog as a symptom, including fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. But if you do have brain fog (potentially
combined with some of these other signs), you might want to consider getting testing
for a gluten-related disorder. 4.Pounding Headaches. Most people get headaches every now and then. But people with gluten allergies, especially
those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and to a lesser extent, those with celiac
disease, seem to be especially prone to them. In addition, migraines may be triggered by
gluten. To back up this up, a study in the medical
journal Headache found that 56% of people with gluten sensitivity, and 30% of those
with celiac disease, suffered from chronic headaches compared to 14% of people in the
control group. About 23% of those with inflammatory bowel
disease also reported chronic headaches. When the researchers looked specifically for
people who had migraine headaches, they found migraines occurred in 21 percent of people
with celiac disease and 14 percent of those with inflammatory bowel disease. (Some people with IBD feel better when they
follow the gluten-free diet.) So, since certain foods can cause headaches
and migraines in those who are susceptible, it’s only logical to also consider gluten
as a potential trigger. 5.Pins and Needles. It’s pretty common to have your foot or hand
“fall asleep” every once in a while, but people who have a gluten allergy may have permanent
“pins and needles” in their arms, legs, or feet. This pins and needles problem in your hands
and feet is called peripheral neuropathy. When you have peripheral neuropathy, you may
experience intermittent or constant tingling in your extremities or even numbness as the
nerve damage progresses. Peripheral neuropathy occurs in up to half
of those with the celiac disease form of gluten allergy, and in the vast majority of those
with the gluten ataxia. It’s not clear how many people with non-celiac
gluten sensitivity also have peripheral neuropathy, but doctors treating people with this condition
report it’s quite common as well. Of course, simply having your foot fall asleep
occasionally doesn’t mean you have a gluten allergy. In fact, peripheral neuropathy is quite common. For example, it’s closely associated with
diabetes. It can also be caused by injuries, kidney
disorders, and vitamin deficiencies, among other conditions. All in all, if you don’t have another potential
explanation for your peripheral neuropathy, you might want to talk with your doctor about
whether it could be caused by gluten. Nerve damage can be difficult to heal, but
some studies (not all) indicate that you may be able to slow or stop the damage by following
a gluten-free diet. 6.Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Studies show that people with newly diagnosed
celiac disease are more likely than average to suffer from symptoms of ADHD, and those
symptoms tend to improve or disappear entirely once the person begins eating gluten-free. It’s less clear whether people with non-celiac
gluten sensitivity might have ADHD symptoms that are relieved by the gluten-free diet,
as medical research simply hasn’t resolved that question. Many parents report success when they remove
gluten from their ADHD-diagnosed children’s diets, regardless of what research has (or
hasn’t) yet shown. But this effect could simply be due to the
elimination of highly-sugared, un-nutritious processed foods, the majority of which happen
to have gluten in them. The bottom line is that going gluten-free
may help your ADHD if you have celiac disease, and it may help your symptoms if you have
non-celiac gluten sensitivity (or possibly another form of gluten allergy). Although the use of diet to treat ADHD is
controversial (and some recent studies haven’t shown a benefit), it might be worth talking
to your doctor about whether eliminating gluten could help. 7.Depression and Anxiety. Depression and anxiety are common psychiatric
problems. In fact, about 18 percent of the overall U.S.
adult population has an anxiety disorder ​and nearly 7 percent of U.S. adults have major
depressive disorder. But are these two disorders linked to the
different forms of gluten allergy? You may be surprised to learn that lots of
studies have found links between celiac disease, depression, and anxiety, both in adults and
in teens. There may also be links between these conditions
and gluten ataxia, a neurological gluten allergy primarily involving loss of motor skills. And people who have non-celiac gluten sensitivity
also report depression and anxiety levels that seem to be higher than those in the general
population, although as of yet there’s no scientific research to back up those observations. So what does all this mean? Well, as with the other health problems on
our list of gluten allergy signs, it may not mean anything. But if you do have depression or anxiety,
it can’t hurt to talk with your doctor about whether one of the types of gluten allergy
could be to blame. 8.Infertility and Trouble Conceiving. There’s a strong connection between infertility
and celiac disease, which is perhaps the best-accepted form of gluten allergy. Both women and men who’ve been diagnosed with
celiac disease are known to struggle with infertility. It’s possible that celiac-associated malnutrition
may play some role in this struggle, but doctors aren’t entirely sure what actually causes
infertility in people with celiac disease. When it comes to non-celiac gluten sensitivity,
the picture is murkier. Even though some health care providers believe
they’re connected, there just simply isn’t much medical research on this form of gluten
allergy and infertility. The good news is that if you’re diagnosed
with celiac disease, going gluten-free may help you conceive, as studies have shown that
the gluten-free diet helps with fertility in both men and women. If you have non-celiac gluten sensitivity,
a gluten-free diet may help you and your partner conceive, but there is no robust scientific
evidence to support this yet. In any event, it may be worth discussing the
possibility with your OB-GYN.

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