Intolerance to gluten can take several different forms. The most well-known condition is coeliac disease, a life-long and serious illness. However, most people who suffer from gluten intolerance test negative for this condition. Their reaction to gluten foods is usually either wheat intolerance or Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity, and the good news is it’s easy to tell the difference.

What Are the Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance

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Coeliac Disease and Wheat Allergy

This is a genetic condition when the gut reacts to gluten as if it were a threat to the immune system. The symptoms are nausea and vomiting, cramps and diarrhoea and also weight loss, numbness in the hands and feet and mouth sores. This is serious condition only manageable by the complete and permanent exclusion of gluten.

By comparison, a wheat allergy can also lead to vomiting and diarrhoea, but sufferers also experience hives, eye irritation and nasal congestion and sometimes breathing difficulties. In this case, once tested, avoiding eating and coming into contact with airborne wheat particles is key.

Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS)

By comparison, NCGS is a less severe but still related condition. Although it is not yet recognised by the medical community, people are repeatedly reporting the same symptoms after eating gluten. These are symptoms such as gas and bloating, mental fatigue, physical fatigue and headaches.

If you think you may have NCGS, the best thing to do is keep a food diary. If you see a connection, you may want to reduce or eliminate gluten from your diet. This means no bread, pasta or beer and only choosing gluten free snacks. You can find out which snacks are suitable for NCGS sufferers at sites such as

Making a Healthy Change

Of course, anytime we decide to change our diets there can be risks. When going gluten-free, it’s important to always read the labels to make sure the foods we buy are healthy and not too high in sugar and salt. Many people who are gluten-intolerant are also sensitive to excessively sweet and salty foods.

But once you’ve made the change and become used to the foods you can and cannot eat, the new diet will become much easier. What’s more, gluten-intolerance is not always a life-long condition, and many sufferers will recover within a couple of years.