Gluten intolerance is a fairly common problem. It is characterized by an adverse reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.
Gluten intolerance can have several causes, including celiac disease, non-cellulosic gluten sensitivity, and wheat allergy ( 1Trusted Source ).
All three forms of gluten intolerance cause widespread symptoms, many of which have nothing to do with digestion.
This article will take a closer look at some of the symptoms of gluten intolerance.
Symptoms of celiac disease
Celiac disease is the most severe form of gluten intolerance.
It’s an autoimmune disease that affects about 1 percent of the population and can cause damage to the digestive system ( 2Trusted Source ).
It can cause a variety of symptoms, including skin problems, digestive problems, and mood swings.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of celiac disease.
- Diarrhea, constipation, smell of feces
People with celiac disease experience inflammation in the small intestine after eating gluten.
This can damage the lining of the intestines, impair nutrient absorption, and lead to severe digestive discomfort, frequent diarrhea, and constipation ( 3Trusted Source ).
Persistent diarrhea can cause serious health problems, including electrolyte loss, dehydration, and fatigue ( 4Trusted Source ).
In addition, people with celiac disease experience pale, foul-smelling stools due to poor absorption of nutrients ( 5Trusted Source ).
Fatigue is common among people with autoimmune disorders, including celiac disease ( 6Trusted Source ).
Several factors are thought to contribute to fatigue in people with celiac disease, including ( 6Trusted Source ):
psychological conditions such as depression
Celiac disease may be associated with a higher risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia, which affects the body’s ability to make healthy red blood cells ( 7Trusted Source ).
It can cause a number of serious side effects, including decreased energy levels and fatigue ( 8Trusted Source ).
- Skin reactions
Gluten intolerance can also affect your skin.
A blistering skin condition called dermatitis herpetiformis is a symptom of celiac disease ( 9Trusted Source ).
Although everyone with celiac disease is sensitive to gluten, some people with celiac disease don’t have the digestive symptoms of celiac disease (10).
Furthermore, several other skin conditions have been shown to improve with a gluten-free diet. It includes:
Psoriasis. This inflammatory condition is characterized by scaling and redness of the skin ( 11 , 12 Trusted Source ).
Alopecia. It is an autoimmune disease characterized by non-scarring hair loss (13, 14).
Chronic lupus. It’s a skin condition characterized by red, itchy, pink lesions with pale centers ( 15Trusted Source ).
- Depression and anxiety
About 6% of adults experience depression each year. The symptoms, which are often hopeless and depressing, have a significant impact on daily life (16).
People with digestive problems are more prone to anxiety and depression than people without any of the disorders ( 17Trusted Source ).
Depression and anxiety are especially common among people with celiac disease ( 18 , 19 , 20 ).
There are a few theories about how gluten intolerance can lead to depression. It includes:
Abnormal levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that allows cells to communicate with each other. It is also known as one of the “happiness” hormones because decreased levels are associated with depression (21).
Gluten exorphin. These peptides are formed during the breakdown of parts of the gluten protein. They can interfere with the central nervous system, which increases the risk of depression ( 22Trusted Source ).
Changes in gut microbiota. An increase in bad bacteria and a decrease in beneficial bacteria can affect the central nervous system and increase the risk of depression ( 23Trusted Source , 24Trusted Source ).
- Weight loss for no apparent reason
Sudden changes in weight are often a cause for concern. Although it can have a variety of causes, unexplained weight loss is a common side effect of undiagnosed celiac disease ( 25Trusted Source ).
In one study of celiac disease patients, two-thirds had lost weight in the 6 months before they were diagnosed ( 26Trusted Source ).
Weight loss can be associated with various digestive symptoms and poor nutrient absorption.
- Iron deficiency anemia
Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency, accounting for 50% of anemia cases worldwide ( 27 Trusted Source