Gluten intolerance and typical symptoms: the most important questions and answers

Glutenunverträglichkeit und typische Symptome: Die wichtigsten Fragen und Antworten

Gluten intolerance is a well-known and widespread disease. 1:100 people are affected. However, not everyone develops specific symptoms of gluten intolerance.

It is precisely for this reason that we would like to devote ourselves to this topic today, so that all your open questions and doubts are answered. You will also receive neutral reporting. Of course, any hints and advice should not be neglected. This will ideally make you the best gluten guide after this article.

the essentials in brief

  • Gluten is a component of many grains. It is mainly used as a binder, since the gluten it contains sticks dough and baked goods together. This always happens in combination with water.
  • Gluten intolerance is an allergic reaction of the body. It is also an autoimmune disease. Eating foods containing gluten inflames the stomach lining. This means that food can be digested less well.
  • Basically, nowadays there are all kinds of foods and dietary supplements that can replace gluten well. Together with a light and varied diet, a gluten-free diet is harmless.

Symptoms of gluten intolerance: what you should know

The symptoms of gluten intolerance can vary from person to person. Sometimes they also coincide with other clinical pictures. That is why we would like to explain to you in advance what gluten intolerance means and what the side effects are. Our little guide gives you the necessary information:

What is gluten intolerance?

Gluten intolerance is a combination of an allergic reaction and an autoimmune disease (9). Technically, it is also referred to as celiac disease (9). The body's digestive system overreacts to gluten, causing inflammation of the stomach lining (9). This means that a conventional intake of food is impaired.

Baker at the bread baking

Gluten is mainly found in pasta and baked goods. In combination with water, the gluten protein ensures that dough can form (image source: unsplash/ ddp).

Gluten is also known as gluten protein and is found in many different grains (especially bread) (9). It is commonly used as a binder to make dough sticky (9). In general terms, manufacturers can visually mark foods that are gluten-free or contain gluten. So that you can clearly differentiate between gluten-free and gluten-containing foods yourself, we have put together the next question for you:

Which foods can trigger symptoms of gluten intolerance?

As you have already learned, gluten is a component of many different grains. We would like to give you a brief overview of which foods are generally rich in gluten. You can now find them listed here:

  • Bread (e.g. with wheat, barley, oats, rye, spelt, unripe spelt, Urkorn, kamut, emmer (12))
  • Semolina (both durum and soft wheat (12))
  • Pasta (noodles, ready meals) (12)
  • Baked goods (pastries, cakes) (12)
  • Soups and sauces with binding agents containing gluten (12)

In general, however, you can assume that manufacturers indicate gluten-containing or gluten-free foods. If you are unsure, you should always look at the list of ingredients or get the relevant information from the customer hotline. This is of the utmost importance as gluten intolerance can trigger serious symptoms. You can see what the symptoms are here:

What are the symptoms of gluten intolerance?

Symptoms of gluten intolerance can vary from person to person. This is exactly why we want to make the distinction as easy as possible for you. You can find more detailed information in this table:

group of people / animals symptoms
Babies / Infants Vomiting, abdominal pain and cramps, diarrhea and bloating, loss of appetite (9)
children / adolescents Weight stagnation/loss, loss of appetite, intestinal/stomach disorders (e.g. vomiting and diarrhea) and a bloated abdomen (9)
Adult in addition, tiredness, exhaustion, vitamin deficiency, weight loss, intestinal problems, flatulence, headache and body aches (this also includes bone pain, e.g. in the back or in the joints) (9)
pregnant women In addition to the gastrointestinal complaints, chronic infections, edema, night blindness and vitamin deficiency (10)
Animals (e.g. horse, cat) Coat and skin problems, hyperactivity, diarrhea, posture (indicating intestinal problems) (11)

Gluten intolerance can also express itself atypically. It can also happen that those affected show no, delayed or mild symptoms.

The full clinical picture is present in only 10 to 20 percent of those affected (6).

Cold symptoms such as B. runny nose, coughing, sweating and headache are common. In very rare cases, severe allergic reactions such as B. itching, shortness of breath, rash on the face or body. In any case, a visit to your family doctor or specialist is recommended.

When and how quickly do the symptoms of gluten intolerance appear?

Symptoms of gluten intolerance can appear immediately after eating or even hours afterward (4). The side effects vary from person to person. In a few cases, it can also occur days later (4). What they all have in common, however, is that the symptoms are not only expressed physically (4).

In many cases, they also affect the neurological and psychological areas of the body (4). As you have already learned, tiredness and exhaustion are also typical symptoms of gluten intolerance. Therefore, a clear diagnosis by experts is important.

Why do people develop gluten intolerance symptoms?

As you have already learned, gluten intolerance is a defense reaction of the body (3). This means your immune system can overreact after frequent exposure to gluten (3). It can therefore happen that even adults suddenly have gluten intolerance. The reaction is basically similar to allergic behavior, which can be stronger or weaker. However, the disease is triggered by an inflammation of the intestine (3).

Basically, gluten intolerance does not have to be something directly negative. There are many advantages behind the clinical picture, which we would now like to mention to you:

  • You pay much more conscious attention to your diet and your body
  • You don't need any medication to deal with your condition
  • Many foods cannot be eaten
  • Gluten-free foods are usually more expensive
  • As you can see, celiac disease is easily treatable. A change in diet is often all that is required. However, so that you can be really sure that you are affected by celiac disease and not other food intolerances, it is advisable to see a doctor. We have formulated the next question for you so that you can get to the responsible persons. It is:

    Which doctor diagnoses the symptoms of gluten intolerance?

    If you are not sure whether you are actually suffering from gluten intolerance, it is advisable to take a test. In principle, you can first go to your family doctor and get information from them (1). This should always be advocated, as there may be other causes of certain gastrointestinal disorders. So e.g. B. stated:

    If there is no celiac disease, the patient alternates between phases with gluten-containing and gluten-free food under medical supervision (1).

    Only then can the doctor find other causes. If they think gluten intolerance is possible, you will probably be referred to a specialist (e.g. internist or gastroenterologist) (1). They will then carry out a test (1). Only after examining certain immunoglobulins can the correct clinical picture be identified (2). In addition to gluten intolerance, there are other forms. The following table gives you an overview:

    Illness explanation
    Gluten intolerance (celiac disease) Already widely researched, symptoms and measures against it are widely known (1)
    wheat flour allergy Only limited to certain types of grain (here wheat). Other types of grain do not necessarily have to be affected, which means that gluten can in principle continue to be consumed
    gluten sensitivity Very little researched, unlike celiac disease, does not trigger an immunological reaction, medical control is essential (1)

    Regardless of the clinical picture, you should pay attention to the symptoms of your body. If you have already noticed that certain foods cause gastrointestinal or other complaints, you should consume certain foods less. Under certain circumstances, eating the food again can trigger more severe symptoms. In some cases, additional side effects may even occur. You can find out exactly what these are here with this question:

    What happens to the body if you eat gluten despite symptoms of gluten intolerance?

    If you ignore the symptoms despite gluten intolerance and still eat gluten-containing food, this can have a number of consequences. Since your body uses the immune reaction to make it clear to you that certain foods cannot be digested, you should always be careful.

    sleeping woman

    Gluten intolerance can be extremely uncomfortable. Early detection of the symptoms is therefore very important for you (Image source: unsplash/ Kinga Cichewicz).

    Gluten can cause nausea and vomiting in those affected. Essential vitamins such as B. the vitamin B can no longer be well absorbed. This can lead to a deficit in certain minerals and trace elements that are essential for your body (5). If you practice this over the long term, it can be life-threatening because you neglect important nutrients and do not absorb them (5).

    If you now want to change your diet, your body will recover after just a few weeks (6). The gluten-free diet regenerates the irritated gastric mucosa and normal food intake is possible again (6). Your organism will benefit in many ways from a consistent and vitamin-rich change in diet.

    Can gluten intolerance symptoms go away?

    Gluten intolerance is lifelong (8). Only the symptoms can be alleviated (8). A change in diet to a gluten-free diet relieves the symptoms after just a few months (approx. 3-6 months (9)). The intestinal mucosa and villi can recover and continue feeding (8).

    However, if gluten is consumed again, the symptoms can occur again and possibly more severely with additional side effects. In order to obtain more detailed information, it is advisable to exchange information with other affected persons. You can find more about it here:

    Where can I talk about the symptoms of gluten intolerance?

    As you have already learned, the symptoms of gluten intolerance are different for everyone. It can therefore be advisable to exchange ideas with other affected people. It is not uncommon for helpful tips or experience reports to be passed on. Special forums or blogs that focus on this topic are particularly suitable. An overview of your advantages and disadvantages in the exchange of a forum can be found here:

    • Experiences are exchanged and tips can be given
    • You will receive the information very quickly and individually to your question
  • The forum or blog should not be taken as medical advice. The tips given could also harm you, since each body reacts individually
  • Manufacturers often use forums and blogs to market their products. Therefore, inform yourself well enough or ask experts about suitable medication or diet
  • Whether you want to join a forum is of course up to you. Both advantages and disadvantages result from this. However, since you have now received a lot of facts about gluten intolerance, we would like to give you additional information. You can find the question here:

    What else do I have to consider if I have symptoms of gluten intolerance?

    Since gluten intolerance can lead to a deficit in important vitamins and trace elements, you should ensure a balanced and gluten-free diet.

    different dishes

    A varied and healthy diet in particular is a key component in alleviating the symptoms of celiac disease patients (Image source: unsplash/ Maddi Bazzocco).

    Patients often develop a deficit in vitamin D, vitamin A, iron, vitamin B12, calcium and zinc (7). Dietary supplements are therefore often recommended. These balance your nutrient balance and provide you with all the necessary elements. Only in this way can vital processes in your body continue to be guaranteed.

    What alternatives are there to foods containing gluten?

    People who are proven to have gluten intolerance definitely need alternative sources of nutrients. But there are all sorts of these. To give you an overview, we have put together the following list for you:

    • Diet: Chia seeds , flaxseeds, cornstarches, applesauce, and guar gum are excellent alternatives (13). They are suitable both for baking and for breakfast in yoghurt.
    • Drinking: If you like to add something to your drinks, psyllium is the right choice for you. They are very easily digestible and stimulate your digestion (13).
    • Intestinal flora : Instead of pasta and baked goods that are difficult to digest, natural yoghurts or smoothies are a good alternative to calm your intestinal flora.
    • Vaccination : If you do not want to do without any of the gluten-containing foods, a vaccination may be an option for you. This option is currently being tested and could provide significant relief for many people (14).

    As you can see, gluten intolerance is easily treatable these days. The numerous alternatives enable you to have a healthy diet in a completely uncomplicated way. Depending on which of these alternatives is suitable for you, you can choose the ideal option for you.


    In this article, we wanted to address the question of what symptoms of gluten intolerance can occur and whether they can be alleviated. Overall, it has been shown that gluten can have serious consequences for the organism of those affected if the symptoms are ignored. In principle, however, there are enough dietary supplements that can replace gluten.

    In combination with other healthy, nutritious and vitamin-rich alternatives, you can still provide your body with a balanced and high-energy diet. You should also pay attention to your daily water requirements. So even with a gluten-free diet, you conscientiously follow the food pyramid and at the same time support your health.

    Individual proofs(14)

    1. From allergies to celiac disease, what to do if you suspect an intolerance?, Mira Fricke, September 21, 2016. Source
    2. Baenkler H.-W. et al.: Internal medicine. Thieme Verlag. 3rd edition 2009. Source
    3. Schuppan, Detlef: Celiac disease: pathogenesis, clinic, epidemiology, diagnostics and therapy, in Federal Health Gazette - Health Research - Health Protection 2016 (59). Source
    4. Sapone et al.: Spectrum of gluten-related disorders: consensus on new nomenclature and classification. BMC Medicine 10 (2012). Source
    5. Ignore celiac disease – these are the consequences. Source
    6. The right diet for celiac disease, December 14, 2017. Source
    7. Experts craft guidance for managing celiac disease Melissa Jenco August 30, 2016. Source
    8. Oberhuber, G., Caspary, WF, Kirchner, T., Borchard, F., Stolte, M., Working Group for Gastroenterological Pathology of the German Society for Pathology: Recommendations for Celiac Disease/Sprue Diagnostics, Z. Gastroenterol. 39, 157-166, 2001. Source
    9. Diagnosis and treatment. Source
    10. Celiac disease (sprue) during pregnancy. Source
    11. Grain Free Cat Food: What You Need to Know, 11/03/2016. Source
    12. Guide for celiac disease: gluten-free foods. Source
    13. Study: Increasing intolerance is not due to more gluten in wheat, Franziska Telser, February 1st, 2021. Source
    14. Celiac disease therapy: study examines the effectiveness of a gluten vaccination!, Detlef Schuppan, 08/22/2016. Source
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