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What are the symptoms of gluten intolerance?

What are the symptoms of gluten intolerance?

Gluten sensitivity and its impact on health

Gluten, found in wheat, barley, and rye, is a family of proteins crucial for maintaining the structure of foods and acting as a binding agent. It is prevalent in various flour-containing foods like bread, pasta, cereals, cakes, and biscuits, as well as in certain processed products such as sausages, gravies, sauces, stock cubes, soy sauce, and chocolate[1].

For many individuals, the consumption of foods containing gluten is associated with adverse intestinal symptoms and discomfort. These may include:

  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Bloating
  • Flatulence
  • Constipation
  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Steatorrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Anaemia
  • Weight loss [1]

If you are experiencing diarrhoea, vomiting, or sudden weight loss, these are signs of something that could be serious, you must consult a doctor.

Coeliac disease vs gluten intolerance

The most severe form of gluten intolerance is coeliac disease, an autoimmune condition triggered by the consumption of gluten. In coeliac disease, the immune system produces antibodies that damage the small intestine, leading to inflammation, impaired digestion, and nutrient malabsorption. Individuals with coeliac disease are genetically predisposed to gluten intolerance, and even small amounts of gluten can cause severe damage to the small intestine. If left untreated, coeliac disease can result in nutrient deficiencies and increase the risk of developing serious health issues like osteoporosis[2].

However, coeliac disease is not the only form of gluten intolerance. Variants in specific genes known as HLA-DQ are associated with a significantly increased risk of gluten intolerance. While having a genetic predisposition does not guarantee the development of coeliac disease, variations in these genes, coupled with environmental factors such as infection, can elevate the risk. Thus, genetic testing for gluten intolerance can help identify individuals carrying genes predisposing them to coeliac disease. A negative test result can help exclude the possibility of coeliac disease[2].

Can gluten intolerance improve?

While individuals with a genetic predisposition to gluten intolerance may experience adverse symptoms, those not genetically predisposed can also exhibit symptoms like diarrhea, flatulence, cramps, and fatigue following gluten consumption. Eliminating gluten from the diet may appear to alleviate symptoms of gluten intolerance, but they may resurface upon reintroducing gluten-containing foods. It's crucial to note that individuals diagnosed with coeliac disease should adhere to a strict gluten-free diet for life[3].

Duration of symptoms and testing for gluten intolerance

An at home sensitivities and intolerance test can be used to assess your genetic predisposition to gluten intolerance, and for some may help explain the symptoms they are having. This test provides a quick, easy, and cost-effective way to determine the risk of developing coeliac disease. If symptoms persist or there's a family history of coeliac disease, consulting a qualified medical professional for further assessment is advisable to prevent potential health complications [3].

MyHealthChecked’s DNA Intolerances & Sensitivities test helps open your eyes to what's going on inside your body. With your personalised health report dashboard, you'll know which foods to stock up on and which to avoid unpleasant symptoms with gluten intake.


  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2020). Celiac Disease.
  2. Mayo Clinic. (2020). Celiac Disease.
  3. Harvard Health Publishing. (2021). Diagnosing Celiac Disease.