This post discusses non-celiac gluten sensitivity symptoms and celiac disease symptoms and should not be construed as medical advice. If you suspect you have gluten sensitivity or a gluten intolerance, please consult your doctor. This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosures.
Most people think of non-celiac gluten sensitivity and celiac disease as disorders of the gut, however, what most people don’t 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 – also known as gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance – and celiac disease. I’ll share many of those symptoms in this article.
Specifically, I’ll share:
- The differences (and similarities) between non-celiac gluten sensitivity and celiac disease
- 60+ symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity
- Reliable diagnostic tools used to diagnose gluten disorders
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity vs. Celiac Disease
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity means a person negatively reacts every time they eat gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oats. I want to explain this disorder a bit more, but first, I want to make sure you’ve ruled out celiac disease first.
Individuals with celiac disease, a rare autoimmune disorder, also cannot tolerate gluten. When someone with celiac disease eats gluten, their immune system launches an attack on the otherwise healthy tissue surrounding their small intestine. This attack damages the small intestine and impairs the digestion and absorption of nutrients throughout the body.
If you suspect you have celiac disease, or need to rule it out completely before implementing a gluten-free diet, I highly suggest getting tested for celiac disease.
You can get a test from your doctor, or even better, take this reliable celiac disease at-home test. (Read more about why it’s important to get tested for celiac disease before eliminating gluten.)
If you don’t have celiac disease, but still suspect gluten is up to no good in your body, you are not alone. Eighteen million people claim to be “gluten sensitive,” and this number continues to rise in the U.S. and worldwide every day.
Despite what many so-called “experts” and naysayers say, non-celiac gluten sensitivity is real, and a growing number of research suggests as much.
In fact, emerging research clearly shows that gluten intolerance, while not an autoimmune disorder, can still wreak havoc in the body and lead to a slew of symptoms similar to celiac disease symptoms.
One such study shows that gluten causes intestinal permeability in all humans, regardless if you have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or neither disorder. Let that sink in for a minute. Everyone who eats gluten experiences some sort of intestinal inflammation or leaky gut.
On top of that, researchers found high levels of zonulin, a hormone that regulates cellular wall junctions, in people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, similar to levels found in those with celiac disease. When zonulin levels are high, undigested bits of food “leak” out of the gut and into the bloodstream, wreaking havoc in your body and creating inflammation at weak links in your body (i.e. Your weak link will be will you experience symptoms.)
Persistent inflammation in the gut is, no doubt, a precursor to all sorts of disease, including but not limited to autoimmune disease, cancer, diabetes and more. (Read: Can Celiac Disease Kill You?)
Symptoms of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
As mentioned, 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?
Below is a list of 60+ non-celiac gluten sensitivity symptoms, most of which are also symptoms of celiac disease too. (Symptoms 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
- Hair loss
- 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
An estimated 60 percent of children and 41 percent of adults with celiac disease have no symptoms. This phenomenon is known as asymptomatic or silent celiac disease.
Diagnosing Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
Getting diagnosed with celiac disease only requires a simple blood test, and may be followed up with additional diagnostic measures depending on your doctor’s assessment. You can read more about how to get tested for celiac disease in this article.
As mentioned, you also can take an at-home celiac disease test to discreetly test yourself for celiac disease without a doctor’s request. Read more about the reliability of at-home celiac tests in this article.
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. Tom O’Bryan discusses the latest science behind how to get tested for a wheat or gluten sensitivity in his best-selling book. He recommends the Wheat Zoomer test, which has a 97-99 percent sensitivity and a 98-100 percent specificity. He also talks a lot about the Cyrex Array 3X test, which can also test you for gluten sensitivity.
Related Reading: How Do I Know if I’m Gluten Intolerant?
Remember, most gluten sensitivity tests offered by your doctors are only checking for 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. Do your research before committing to a test.
Are You At Risk?
If you have any of these above 60+ symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity, talk to your doctor ASAP to get tested for both celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. It’s a no-brainer to take this at-home celiac disease test first, and then discuss the results with your doctor.
Remember, if you have a first or second degree relative with celiac disease, you are at higher risk for having the disease as there is a genetic component to celiac.
Related Reading: Is There a Higher Risk for Celiac Disease in Immediate Family?
Please do not implement a gluten-free diet until you get tested first as you must be eating gluten in order for these tests to be accurate. Read this article if you need more convincing.