12 Unusual Signs of Gluten Sensitivity

When I first starting going to the doctor with my ‘weird’ symptoms many many years ago, I had no idea it could be gluten sensitivity.  Way back then, no one ever talked about a problem with gluten.

In my case, I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome and spastic colon.  I was put on a diet of yogurt, chicken, bananas and a bunch of others ‘mild’ foods.  Of course, it didn’t help at all and I eventually learned to deal with it best I could.

Now, many years later, I understand that is was a reaction to gluten.

So what are some of the symptoms of gluten issues?  The Gluten Free School has a list of some of the surprising signs of gluten sensitivity:

1. Depression and Anxiety

Symptoms of depression can include feelings of hopelessness, lack of interest, low energy, appetite changes, sleep changes, anger, and more. ….  Research now confirms that Celiac disease and gluten intolerance are linked to depression, anxiety and mood disorders. Once gluten is removed from the diet in the gluten sensitive, depression and anxiety can actually be resolved.

Symptoms of anxiety often go hand in hand with depression which makes it very hard to relax and think clearly. Some may experience sensations of panic, loss of control, heart racing, chest pains, trouble breathing or feelings of passing out. Anxiety attacks can even mimic heart attacks so it’s important to be aware of the distinction.

2. ADHD12 Unusual Signs of Gluten Sensitivity

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder affects children and adults alike, but many don’t make the connection of their symptoms to diet.

Alternative approaches address food sensitivities and intolerance as a root cause of behavioral disorders.  ….. looks at the gut because neurotransmitters are produced directly by what’s broken down in the digestive system. Leaky gut can facilitate a number of mental health issues because gluten and other food proteins are essentially sneaking into the body where they don’t belong.

3. Brain Fog

Being unable to think clearly is just as stifling as it sounds. When you feel disconnected or just plain “out of it”, it might not be all in your head.

Gluten can have the affect known as “foggy brain” in sensitive individuals. While it can be difficult to quantify gluten induced “brain fog”, researchers in a 2002 study in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry found that there may be significant cross reactivity of IgG antibodies to gluten and other different antibodies that could result in mental fogginess. These antibodies can also cause inflammation which can further exacerbate the condition.

4. Autoimmune Disease

Gluten consumption has been linked to numerous autoimmune diseases …. Sarah Ballantyne PhD, also known as The Paleo Mom, shared some vital information with us concerning gluten sensitivity and autoimmunity. “Every single autoimmune disease in which gluten as a contributor has been investigated has shown that gluten sensitivity is a contributor to that disease.”

Just to be clear… here’s a list of some autoimmune diseases known to be related to gluten sensitivity — Celiac Disease, Hashimoto Thyroiditis, Graves Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Vitiligo, Sjogren’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, Dermatitis Herpetiformis, and Type 1 Diabetes.

5. Low Immunity

If you’re prone to frequently getting sick, you should consider gluten to potentially be an issue.

…. the first sign of gluten intolerance for her was an extremely depressed IgA result on adrenal testing …

To break this down into simpler terms, IgA is a class of antibodies in your body that exist primarily in saliva, tears and in the gastrointestinal tract (though some do exist in the blood). Think of them as your first line of defense when a cold comes knocking at your door. When you’re sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease, one sign is a depressed level of IgA antibodies meaning that you don’t have the proper defenses in place to keep you well.

6. Dental Issues

Cavities, canker sores (mouth ulcers) broken teeth, and tooth decay can plague those with undiagnosed gluten sensitivity as well as Celiac disease. …

Calcium levels of gluten sensitive individuals can be staggeringly low due to malabsorption, which can lead to weak bones and teeth.

7. Unexplained Weight Loss or Weight Gain

Can’t keep your weight in check? A sudden or even gradual change in weight while eating habits remain more or less unchanged can be an indicator of a bigger health problem.

For some with malabsorption and gut permeability due to gluten intolerance or sensitivity, unwanted weight loss despite regular calorie intake can have dangerous effects. On the other hand, gluten can trigger systemic inflammation in the body that mimics stubborn weight gain. Removing gluten for good and healing the gut with a healthy diet can restore weight to healthy normal levels.

8. 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.

9. Skin problems

From eczema and acne to psoriasis and dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), gluten can cause some extremely uncomfortable skin issues. Basically inflammation under the top layers of skin can occur and cause eruptions of rashes, itchiness, burning, redness, and even painful blisters.

The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) describes the severe rash of DH as, “a chronic disease of the skin marked by groups of watery, itchy blisters that may resemble pimples or blisters.

10. Hormonal Imbalance and Adrenal Fatigue

Hormone imbalance can manifest itself as irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain or loss, hot flashes, low energy levels, erratic sleep patterns and more.  In discussing gluten sensitivity and female hormones,Dr. Daniel Kalish D.C states that “a strong relationship has been established in medical literature between gluten sensitivity and the hormones progesterone and estrogen. Additionally, most of my patients with gluten sensitivity have an adrenal hormone imbalance, and this becomes exacerbated for patients during menopause…”

11. Joint and Muscle Aches

Got joint and muscle aches? Gluten’s damaging inflammation in susceptible individuals can cause flares and pain. WebMD states that, “Joint pain and inflammation are (also) common symptoms of gluten sensitivity. And research does show links between the two diseases.” The Arthritis Foundation has also published information regarding the link between gluten sensitivity, joint pain, and arthritis conditions.

12. Extreme Fatigue

Do you feel like you can never sleep enough?  Jennifer of Gluten Free School shared that the reason she sought medical help initially was because she could sleep up to 11 hours and still wake up exhausted and feeling like she was drugged. Though she did have gastrointestinal issues, her extreme exhaustion seemed more pressing. Since removing gluten, she can get up daily at 5:45 am without an alarm and no need for caffeine.

Personally, I had 9 to 10 of these symptoms.  How about you?

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