Gluten Intolerance Symptoms – Do You Have Them?
“Am I sensitive to gluten?”
As a doctor and author of a book on the subject, I’m often asked what symptoms are associated with gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity or NCGS (non-celiac gluten sensitivity). The “correct” term for a gluten intolerance that is not celiac disease, nor a wheat allergy, is NCGS. It can still be called “gluten sensitivity” and the two terms are mostly interchangeable. I utilize the term intolerance in the title of this blog because currently, search engines show it to be the most commonly used search term when individuals are wishing to gain information about gluten.
Now that we’ve gotten all the nomenclature out of the way, let’s get down to specifics. How do you know if you are sensitive to gluten and what symptoms are associated with the condition?
Gluten is known to be a causative agent in over 300 symptoms and conditions, giving it the well deserved moniker of the “great masquerader”.
Gluten can cause neurological symptoms more commonly than even digestive, a surprise to many. Therefore symptoms of:
- Pain, including joint pain
- Brain fog or loss of concentration
- Numbness and tingling
All the above are known to be caused from the neurological effects gluten can create in sensitive individuals. Did you see yourself or anyone you know on that list?
Digestive related symptoms are second in frequency and include such symptoms as:
- Acid reflux/GERD
- Hiatal hernia
- Leaky gut
- Crohn’s disease
All the above have a strong link to gluten reactions.
Hormonal issues including:
- Decreased libido/sex drive
- Menopausal symptoms
- Low testosterone
- Erectile dysfunction
The above are also linked to gluten sensitivity or NCGS.
Autoimmune conditions have been shown to be linked, including:
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- and more. There are over 100 autoimmune conditions total.
A leaky gut, caused by gluten sensitivity is known to result in an overtaxed immune system that mistakes your own body’s organs and tissues for a foreign invader.
The skin can also be a target with a variety of conditions including:
- Dry skin
Other organs affected plus conditions created by gluten include:
- Lungs and Sinus
- Generalized inflammation, a known initiator of chronic degenerative disease including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
As mentioned earlier, gluten is associated with about 300 symptoms and conditions, and while the nervous system and digestive system are the two most common, few areas of the body remain untouched by its potential effects.
Having symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity can raise a red flag, but confirmation comes next.
How can you determine for sure gluten is creating your symptoms?
There are good lab tests available that make diagnosis much easier than it was a decade ago. There is no perfect lab test, but the testing we currently have is a vast improvement. In addition to available labs, the free test you can do which is valid is as follows: elimination of gluten from the diet with improved symptoms occurring as a result. We always utilize this free test to confirm blood test results, because no lab test is perfect.
Many times it has been the elimination of gluten from the diet that has given the patient, and us, the confirmation that indeed gluten was causing negative reactions. Labs are imperfect and even once found to be positive, the ultimate “proof” lies in making the dietary change and feeling better.
Is eliminating gluten “all” you need to do to reverse your symptoms?
Unfortunately, the secondary effects of gluten must be addressed as well. We utilize the term “secondary” because the primary thing that occurred was the ingestion of gluten with bad consequences. Following that a variety of secondary responses can occur including:
- A weakening of the immune system that requires assistance to be “rebuilt” in order to restore normal function
- Infections occurring as a result of the weakened immune system that must be diagnosed and treated.
- Cross-reactive foods which have a similar protein structure to gluten and can cause reactions despite the fact they are not technically gluten. A lab test diagnoses their presence.
- The presence of other toxins including heavy metals, mold and Lyme disease or viruses
- Hormonal imbalance
Such secondary effects require identification and treatment before full health can be regained. This is an area in which we specialize. Specialized lab tests exist that allow us to hone in on the exact secondary effect(s) affecting you.
Do you have a better idea what gluten can cause as far as symptoms are concerned? Did you see yourself or someone you know on the lists above?
We are happy to assist if you think you may be suffering from a gluten condition. If gluten is the culprit to your health problems, it should not be ignored.
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To reclaiming your best health,
Dr. Vikki Petersen DC, CCN
IFM Certified Practitioner
Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”