This post discusses non-celiac gluten sensitivity symptoms and celiac disease symptoms and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor if you suspect you have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Please read my disclosures.
Most people think of non-celiac gluten sensitivity and celiac disease as disorders of the gut, however, what most people may not realize is that symptoms of these disorders go well beyond bloating and gas.
In fact, there are hundreds of symptoms associated with non-celiac gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, and I’ll share many of them here today.
In this article, we’ll talk about the following:
- The differences (and similarities) between non-celiac gluten sensitivity and celiac disease
- 60 symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity and celiac disease
- Diagnostic tools used by doctors to officially diagnose both disorders
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity vs. Celiac Disease
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (or more aptly called non-celiac wheat sensitivity) means a person has a physical reaction after consuming gluten. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Someone who has a sensitivity to gluten cannot tolerate wheat.
Related Reading: What is Gluten?
People with celiac disease also cannot tolerate gluten, however, when they eat gluten, their immune system launches an attack on the otherwise healthy tissue surrounding their small intestine. This autoimmune attack damages the small intestine and impairs the digestion and absorption of nutrients throughout the body.
Studies have shown that gluten causes intestinal permeability in everyone who eats it. Compound that with a legitimate sensitivity to wheat or full-blown celiac disease, and Houston, we have a problem!
Related Reading: What Is Celiac Disease?
We are not programmed, as humans, to eat wheat for breakfast (cereal), wheat for lunch (sandwich) and wheat for dinner (dinner rolls, pasta, pizza, etc.). Yet, most Americans eat wheat at every meal, causing persistent damage to the gut lining. The assault can be relentless and one day, boom!, it breaks. Suddenly, the intestinal lining doesn’t restore itself and undigested food particles wind up in your bloodstream and wreak havoc at what Dr. Tom O’Bryan says is the “weakest link in your chain.”
Related Reading: Gluten Sensitivity vs. Celiac Disease
While someone with non-celiac gluten sensitivity does not make antibodies to gluten, nor experience the same level of intestinal damage prevalent with those with celiac disease, they do experience similar symptoms. These symptoms can be very painful and impair a person’s ability to function optimally. Persistent inflammation is a precursor to disease – including but not limited to autoimmune disease, cancer, diabetes and more.
Symptoms of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity or Celiac Disease
An estimated 18 million people in the U.S. suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity, six times the number of people afflicted with celiac disease (about six million people have celiac disease). Could you be one of them?
(Non-celiac gluten sensitivity symptoms and celiac disease symptoms are listed in alphabetical order.)
- Abdominal pain
- Acid reflux
- Alopecia areata
- Anemia (iron-deficiency)
- Autoimmune diseases
- Behavior issues
- Bone loss
- Brain fog
- Canker sores
- Chronic urticaria
- Cold sores
- Delayed puberty
- Dental issues
- Dermatitis herpetiformis (blisters on skin)
- Discomfort after eating
- Enamel defects
- Excessive cavities
- Failure to thrive (children)
- Foul smelling stool
- Geographic tongue
- Irregular menstruation
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Joint pain
- Keratosis pilaris (chicken skin)
- Liver and biliary tract disorders
- Low birth weight
- Low energy
- Muscle pain
- Numbness in the legs, arms or fingers
- Pale skin
- Short stature
- Shortness of breath
- Thyroid disease
- Type 1 diabetes
- Viral infections
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Weight loss
Just because you do not experience one of the symptoms mentioned, does not mean you do not have either gluten disorder. There more than 300 known symptoms of celiac disease according to Beyond Celiac (although I could not find such an comprehensive list in my research).
Also, an estimated 60 percent of children and 41 percent of adults with celiac disease have no symptoms, according to this article. In other words, just because you don’t have any of the above symptoms does not mean you don’t have a silent gluten disorder.
In this article, I detail some of the studies connected to 10 of the most common symptoms.
Diagnosing Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease
Getting diagnosed with celiac disease requires a simple blood test, and may be followed up with additional diagnostic measures depending on your doctor’s assessment.
Related Reading: How to Tested for Celiac Disease
You can also take an at-home blood test to discreetly test yourself for celiac disease without a doctor’s request. Get the test here.
Getting tested for non-celiac gluten sensitivity is a bit more tricky, as there is not one widely accepted diagnostic tool yet known.
That said, Dr. O’Bryan discusses the latest science behind how to get tested for a wheat or gluten sensitivity in this book. He recommends the Wheat Zoomer test, which has a 97-99 percent sensitivity and a 98-100 percent specificity.
Related Reading: How Do I Know if I’m Gluten Intolerant?
Most gluten sensitivity tests offered by your doctors are only checking for a sensitivity to one peptide in gluten (gliadin), but the tests Dr. O’Bryan recommends test for potential sensitivity to multiple peptides, giving you a more accurate picture of what might be going on inside of you.
Are You at Risk?
If you have any of these above symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, get yourself over to your doctor’s office ASAP to get tested for both.
If you have a first or second degree relative with celiac disease, you are at higher risk for having the disease.
Related Reading: Is There a Higher Risk for Celiac Disease in Immediate Family?
P.S. Do not go gluten-free until you get tested, as you must be eating gluten in order for these tests to be accurate. Read this article if you need more convincing.