Gluten intolerance is a general term used to describe the negative reaction people have after consuming gluten, and symptoms include bloating, cramps, gas and diarrhea. The cause of the intolerance can be either celiac disease or a nonceliac gluten sensitivity, and, according to WebMD, there are about 300 possible symptoms.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. If you have this condition, consuming gluten causes your immune system to attack the lining of your small intestine. This results in damage and poor absorption of nutrients, both of which can lead to much greater problems such as malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility or even cancer. The most obvious symptoms are gastrointestinal related. However, many of the symptoms are far more subtle. Symptoms such as fatigue, bone or joint pain, arthritis, depression or anxiety, tingling numbness in hands and feet, seizures, erratic menstrual periods, dermatitis herpetiformis, and mouth sores are common.
If celiac disease is ruled out and patients still have the unpleasant symptoms mentioned above, there are various forms of nonceliac gluten sensitivity that could be responsible. While not yet accepted by the medical world at large, according to About.com, physicians are beginning to research this condition, and what they are finding is strengthening the theory that it is a real condition separate from celiac disease.