Have you ever felt like doctors don’t take you seriously? You know that something is wrong with your health, but your practitioner is too quick to dismiss the concerns you experience. Through your own research you stumble upon this concept called gluten intolerance and realize that all of the signs of gluten sensitivity listed are identical to what you’re experiencing.
When I was in college, I too chased after elusive answers regarding my health while every doctor I saw felt my case wasn’t worth the time. A total of seven different doctors over the course of two years attributed my undiagnosed gluten intolerance(at the time) to other seemingly unrelated individual symptoms that got me nowhere.
All of my severe symptoms that were actually related to gluten were boiled down to “being a typical female college student” (what does that even mean?!), chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), chronic migraines, and one doctor even said I was just being paranoid.
Their solution was to throw medication at the various problems which included sleeping pills, separate anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications, and muscle relaxants. Despite my persistent prodding for real answers and diagnostic testing, these common “fixes” were equivalent to placing the tiniest band-aid over a gaping wound—I was not being helped, healed, or listened to.Can you relate to my experience? Sadly, I’ve found this rings true for many people out there who remained undiagnosed with gluten sensitivity for years and were given false answers that led nowhere. If you still don’t have all of your answers, know that you may exhibit one or several nagging and debilitating symptoms that many medical practitioners don’t attribute to a very possible root cause of gluten intolerance or sensitivity.
7 Surprising Signs of Gluten Sensitivity
Gluten sensitivity (or intolerance, as they’re are the same thing) can manifest as much more than just IBS-like symptoms and stomach problems. That’s why doctors are more likely to dismiss the idea that you even have this because if they don’t hear about digestive problems as your chief complaint, then it must be something else.
It can be an exclusively neurological disease for many. In 2013, an in-depth study by a team of researchers including renowned Dr. Alessio Fasano stated that, “Both Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity may present with a variety of neurologic and psychiatric co-morbidities, however, extraintestinal symptoms (outside of the digestive system) may be the prime presentation in those with gluten sensitivity. However, gluten sensitivity remains under-treated and under-recognized as a contributing factor to psychiatric and neurologic manifestations.”
It’s very important to note that not all cases of neurological symptoms are caused by gluten. However, issues like depression and anxiety which are not typically linked directly to gluten consumption CAN be signs of gluten sensitivity for some. Too often, pain killers and prescriptions are thrown at patients when no clear diagnosis is made, missing the real cause behind the symptoms bubbling up on the surface.
The bottom line is that gluten sensitivity can affect processes in the body beyond the digestive tract, wrecking havoc to your skin (our largest organ!), joints, bones, mouth, endocrine system and more. Your myriad of symptoms that don’t make sense to the doctor may mean that they’ve no clue that you’re reporting back to them the signs of gluten sensitivity. The current model of medicine treats symptoms rather than looking for the underlying cause which further explains why doctors are quick to prescribe medication that might ease only your momentary suffering. But it certainly doesn’t excuse the lack of education and openmindedness that would serve patients better if they knew more about the interaction between food and the body.
If you don’t feel listened to, then it may be time to find a new doctor. I eventually found a doctor who listened and told me I needed to stop eating gluten—for good. In a mere two weeks off gluten, all my plaguing symptoms began to cease and things I didn’t realize were actual problems with my body started to clear up, including achy joints (at age 21 no less!), muscle spasms, strange tingling sensations, and random dizziness.
And for all the doubters out there, gluten sensitivity is oh so very real.
Here’s a checklist of some of the surprising signs that have been linked to it gluten sensitivity and make sure to work with a qualified health professional to get tested.
1. Depression and Anxiety
Depression is a serious health concern for many people. Symptoms of depression can include feelings of hopelessness, lack of interest, low energy, appetite changes, sleep changes, anger, and more. Some patients do require medication to correct persistent imbalances with depression. However, often underlying causes of depression are not investigated. Research now confirms that Celiac disease and gluten intolerance are linked to depression, anxiety and mood disorders. Once gluten is removed from the diet in the gluten sensitive, depression and anxiety can actually be resolved.
Symptoms of anxiety often go hand in hand with depression which makes it very hard to relax and think clearly. Some may experience sensations of panic, loss of control, heart racing, chest pains, trouble breathing or feelings of passing out. Anxiety attacks can even mimic heart attacks so it’s important to be aware of the distinction.