Gluten intolerance causes symptoms such as excess gas, stomach pain, diarrhoea and constipation. These signs may also be due to other diseases and intolerance is often not diagnosed. In addition, when the intolerance is severe, it can lead to Celiac disease, which causes stronger and more frequent symptoms of abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
This gluten allergy can arise in both children and adults and it is usually due to the inability or difficulty to digest gluten. Gluten is a protein present in wheat, rye and barley. Treatment consists of removal of this protein from the diet.
If you think you may be gluten intolerant, the symptoms experienced may include:
1. Excess gas and bloated belly after eating foods such as bread, pasta or beer
2. Alternation in periods of diarrhoea or constipation
3. Dizziness or excessive tiredness after meals
4. Easy irritability
5. Frequent migraines that arise mainly after meals
6. Red spots on skin that can itch
7. Constant pain in muscles or joints
However, if you are having difficulty identifying your symptoms, here’s how to differentiate each one to facilitate diagnosis:
1. Abdominal discomfort
When there is intolerance, after eating foods that contain wheat, barley or rye, symptoms that may begin to appear include excess gas, swollen belly, diarrhoea or constipation. In addition to abdominal malaise, the cells of the intestine will also become damaged, causing malabsorption of vitamins and minerals.
How to differentiate: The pain of the intolerance is recurrent and is usually accompanied by intestinal gases and changes that mainly occur after eating breads, cakes or pasta. It may also cause pain associated with gastritis and it always occurs after meals or when one goes for long periods without eating.
Consumption of gluten can cause dizziness, mental confusion, disorientation or feeling fatigue after taking a meal. In most cases these symptoms are not associated with intolerance and they may therefore go unnoticed.
How to differentiate: Dizziness caused by intolerance is experienced even if one is well fed and is resting. It is not related to excessive physical activity or changes in blood pressure.
3. Mood swings
It is common for mood changes to occur due to intestinal malaise. It happens especially after meals accompanied by symptoms of irritability, anxiety or sadness.
The frequent mood swings can also cause tiredness and fatigue even after having a good night sleep. This is because the body focuses on fighting the inflammation in the gut, spending all the energy that would give the person encouragement and disposition for a new day.
4. Chronic migraine
Generally, migraine caused by this intolerance begins at about 30 to 60 minutes after taking a meal. Symptoms of blurred vision and pain around the eyes may also occur.
How to differentiate: Common migraines are not experienced at specific times and they are usually linked to coffee or alcohol consumption. They therefore have no relation to foods rich in wheat flour.
5. Itchy skin
Inflammation in the intestine caused by intolerance can cause dryness and itching of the skin, creating small red balls. However, the same symptom may be linked to worsening symptoms of psoriasis and lupus.
How to differentiate: Foods with wheat, barley or rye, such as cakes, breads and pasta, should be removed from the diet to check if the itching improves when these foods are not consumed.
6. Muscle pain
Gluten consumption cause or increase pain in muscle joint and tendons, a condition clinically known as fibromyalgia. Swelling is also common, especially in the joints of the fingers, knees and hips.
How to differentiate: Food that contain wheat, barley and rye should be removed from the diet and one should check if pain symptoms improve.
7. Lactose intolerance
Lactose intolerance commonly presents itself in the presence of gluten intolerance. Thus, people who have been diagnosed with lactose intolerance are more likely to have intolerance of foods that contain wheat, barley and rye and therefore they should be vigilant of the symptoms.
How to know if it is intolerance
In the presence of these symptoms it is recommended to have tests done so as to confirm the diagnosis of intolerance by performing, blood, faeces, urine or intestinal biopsy.
In addition, the diet should exclude all products containing protein such as flour, bread, biscuit and cake as well as observing whether the symptoms disappear or not.
How to live with gluten intolerance
After diagnosis of intolerance, all foods rich in protein should be exempted from the diet. These foods include wheat, flour, pasta, bread, cakes and biscuits. It is possible to find several other special food products that do not contain this protein such as the aforementioned foods made from flours that are allowed in the diet such as rice flour, cassava, corn, cornmeal potato starch, cassava starch, sweet sprinkles and sour sprinkles.
In addition, it is important to observe the label of the containers for the list of ingredients so as to check for the presence of wheat, barley or rye in the composition; or to check for residues of gluten in products such as sausage, kibe, cereal flakes, meat balls and canned soups.