Let's begin with what gluten sensitivity is not. It's not celiac disease and it's not wheat allergy.
Celiac disease is a sudden onset allergic reaction to the ingestion of gluten, which is found most commonly in the grains wheat, rye and barley. Celiac disease can lead to serious malnutrition.
Wheat allergy is a histamine reaction to wheat that operates much the same as hay fever or peanut allergy. The body's reaction is severe and happens immediately after eating wheat products.
Gluten sensitivity symptoms develop more slowly and subtly over time, making it harder to diagnose. The body reacts to the proteins glutenin and gliadin found in wheat, rye and barley. And some of the symptoms are not the sort we'd expect from food intolerance.
If you are suffering from gluten sensitivity you may experience a number of different symptoms that seem unrelated to each other. Outside of the digestive issues you might expect, a vast array of things can go wrong if you're unwittingly continuing to eat gluten.
You may have problems with your menstrual cycle, and if you're trying to conceive it may not be happening. Your teeth may be deteriorating. You may experience seizures.
Perhaps you're experiencing nerve damage or respiratory problems. Maybe you have acne or a skin disorder called rosacea. You may suffer from night blindness.
You may have one or more autoimmune disorder like Hashimoto's disease, Sjögren's syndrome or lupus erythematosus. Maybe you're losing your hair. You may have eczema or psoriasis, swelling and inflammation.
Eating gluten for some may trigger migraines. You may have joint and bone pain, osteoporosis and muscle cramps. Gluten ataxia is a neurological abnormality involving clumsy and jerky movement which may respond well to a gluten-free diet.
You may be deficient in a number of vitamins and minerals, weakened from iron-deficiency anemia, bruising easily or developing canker sores. You may suffer from lactose intolerance or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Focusing your thoughts may be increasingly difficult.