Can Gluten Intolerance Cause Excess Mucus?

Consuming gluten is typically safe for most people, unless you are intolerant or allergic to the protein. Gluten intolerance, also known as celiac disease, is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the lining of the small intestines, causing permanent damage. If you develop excessive mucus from eating gluten, you may not have gluten intolerance but rather a gluten allergy. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms to receive a clinical diagnosis.

About Gluten

Gluten is a protein that is commonly found in wheat, barley and rye. According to a wheat and gluten allergy is commonly confused with celiac disease, or gluten intolerance, because similar symptoms ensue when you consume gluten. Gluten is a widely used ingredient in various foods, such as baked goods, breads, crackers, ice cream, ketchup and salad dressings. If you are either allergic to or intolerant of gluten, you will need to implement a gluten-free diet to prevent symptoms and further complications.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a genetic condition that primarily affects the small, hairlike projectiles that line the small intestines called villi. The villi are an essential part of the digestive system because they are responsible for absorbing nutrients, proteins and fats. When you eat gluten with this condition, the immune system attacks the villi for an unknown reason. The damage to the lining of the intestines causes chronic diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, bloating, weight loss, constipation and foul-smelling stool, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. This condition does not cause increased mucus production.

Mucus and Allergies

If you develop excessive mucus in your sinuses and lungs, you most likely are experiencing an allergy to gluten, not intolerance. During an allergic reaction to gluten, the immune system overreacts to the protein and identifies it as a harmful substance. The body responds by attacking the protein with immunoglobulin E antibodies and histamine. Histamine is produced by mast cells in soft tissues and increases blood flow, causes inflammation and stimulates mucus production. Increased mucus causes nasal congestion, post-nasal drip and congestion in your chest. Other symptoms that may accompany increased mucus production include skin rashes, eczema, hives, swelling in the face or throat, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and shortness of breath.


If you accidently ingest gluten that triggers mucus production in your body, talk with your doctor about effective treatments for your symptoms. Common over-the-counter medications may include decongestants, antihistamines and expectorants. Talk to your doctor about implementing a gluten-free diet before changing what you eat.

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