Symptoms of non-coeliac gluten sensitivity
Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) occurs with very non-specific symptoms that resemble those of coeliac 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 coeliac disease, the symptoms of NCGS are very diverse and the clinical picture is very broad. This means that 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 diarrhoea, abdominal pain and bloating to extra intestinal manifestations including fatigue, headaches and joint pain. Some patients may be able to tolerate a small amount of gluten without developing clinical symptoms. In contrast to coeliac disease patients, strict gluten avoidance may not therefore be necessary. The list below illustrates the intestinal and extraintestinal symptoms that can manifest in NCGS patients.
Common symptoms of NCGS
|Gastrointestinal complaints||General complaints|
|Bloating||Lack of well-being|
|Diarrhoea or constipation||Headaches|
|Upper abdominal pain||Anxiety|
|Nausea||Mental confusion ("foggy mind")|
|Gastro-oesophageal reflux||Numbness in arms and legs|
|Aphthous stomatitis||Fibromyalgia-like joint and muscle pain|
|Heartburn or vomiting||Dermatitis/rashes|
Sources: Volta et al. BMC Medicine 2014, 12:85; A. Fasano, Center for Celiac Research & Treatment, Baltimore, USA
Further information on this topic
Expert interviews 1
This resource provides healthcare professionals with a detailed overview of the current scientific evidence and understanding regarding non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. Definition, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment are amongst the topics covered as well as a number of practical case studies presented from expert clinicians in this field.
Gluten Sensitivity – Definition, Symptoms and Differences to Coeliac Disease
International Expert Meeting on Gluten Sensitivity 2012 in Munich, Germany