Symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity

  1. Symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity
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Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) occurs with very non-specific symptoms that resemble those of celiac disease or wheat allergy and can have both intestinal and extraintestinal manifestations. There is also overlap between the symptoms of NCGS and irritable bowel syndrome.

As with celiac disease, the symptoms of NCGS are very diverse and the clinical picture is very broad. Therefore, it is not possible to distinguish between different gluten-related complaints on the basis of symptoms alone. Symptoms related to NCGS can vary from typical gastrointestinal complaints including diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating to extra intestinal manifestations including fatigue, headaches and joint pain. In contrast to individuals with celiac disease, where strict avoidance of gluten is reguired, some patients may be able to tolerate a small amount of gluten without developing clinical symptoms. The list below illustrates the intestinal and extraintestinal symptoms that can manifest in NCGS patients.

Common symptoms of NCGS

Gastrointestinal complaintsGastrointestinal complaints
BloatingLack of well-being
Abdominal painFatigue
Diarrhea or constipationHeadaches
Upper abdominal painAnxiety
NauseaMental confusion ("foggy mind")
Gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD)Numbness in arms and legs
Aphthous stomatitisFibromyalgia-like joint and muscle pain
Heartburn or vomitingDermatitis/rashes
Sources: Volta et al. BMC Medicine 2014, 12:85; A. Fasano, Center for Celiac Research & Treatment, Baltimore, USA